arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
(still taking questions/suggestions, if you want me to talk about anything in particular - mixing up my responses to those with other stuff as I go)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks asked me to talk about my fannish history, which I touched on a bit in yesterday's post. Usually when I talk about it, I stick to my media-fandom past, but really it goes back earlier than that. This is also going to riff a bit off [personal profile] gwyn's post about her first viewing of Star Wars, and how that changed her life, because I basically just went flaily when I saw that and was all "yes, that! That's what it was like!" With the Starlog and the not having any information and the game-changing-ness of it all!

So here I am, flailing. :)

Things are SO different now for SF fans; I never would have believed that there would be so much SFF available, both in print and in visual media, that I would have to pick and choose what I wanted to consume because there was no way to keep up with it all.

When I was in jr high/high school, it was pretty much possible to keep up with everything that got published in the genre, if you were a fast enough reader. Not just novels; all the magazines, too. And not just the short-story mags (Asimov's, and Analog, and Astounding, and Fantasy & Science Fiction...), but things like Starlog and Omni (♥ Omni ♥) and Fangoria. (I started working a paper route and babysitting at 12, and along with taking out as many things from the library as they'd let me, all my money went to reading material, basically.)

For a lot of that time, "fandom" was something magical and amazing that happened over there somewhere, for other, luckier people. I knew about cons from seeing ads in the back of the magazines, and from reading things like the Star Trek Concordance and similar things, but I couldn't imagine being part of that, much though I wanted to be.

Then in 1980, when I was 15, WorldCon came back to Boston as NorEascon III, and the Sunday paper had a bit about it. My parents showed me the article and I drank it all in, then went off to my room to read a book because these things were not for me. My dad knocked on my door a few minutes later and offered to give me $50 and a ride in to the hotel where it was being held, so I could get a day pass and have a few hours to explore.

!!!!! Z.O.M.G. !!!!!

So in I went, and wandered around wide-eyed and amazed. I'd already missed three and a half days of the con, but I didn't care; this was the best thing ever. I don't think I went to any panels, but I walked around and listened to hall conversations and looked at people's costumes and wallowed in the Hucksters' Room and bought some stuff, including a NorEascon III beer mug that I still have.

Worldcon is a trippy, trippy first con to attend, let me tell you. *g* A few months later, I went to my first Boskone, this time for all three days (although for some reason my parents didn't want 15-y-o me staying at the hotel so I had to be driven in and out...), and I was hooked. I could only afford one con per year, but I went every year without fail. I loved all of it: the filking, the in-jokes, the merchandise (SO MANY BOOKS *swooooon*), the costumes, the conversations, the con suite, the people.

The hucksters' room at Boskone is where I discovered Elfquest; I was chatting with one of the dealers and he talked it up, and I went home and sent in a subscription (that was when they were theoretically coming out every three months, during the initial run of the initial quest). I filled in the massive holes in my book collection, bought BSG and Doctor Who and Star Trek merchandise, bought waaaay too many glossy 8x10 photographs (with the circles and the arrows and the paragraphs on the back... wait, no) of pretty pretty actors. I picked up the SF-con speaking cadence.

SF fandom at the time was very much book-based; people watched (all of the) SF movies and shows, but that was just entertainment. Real ("real") fandom was reading and writing books, reading and writing for zines (not media fanzines, though!), making and selling SFF art, costuming (we weren't calling it cosplay back then), talking about science, etc etc. Star Wars had been creating an influx of new fans to con-going fandom and there were some cranky rumblings about media fans versus trufen.

So there I was - a book fan, sure! I fit right in at SF cons! But also I really liked all those movies and tv shows everyone was looking down on. :( But I was at teenager who thought I'd found my people, and I relegated tv shows to being just something I did on my own, and focused on the stuff everyone else liked as my social activity.

And it really was social; I made friends that I saw every year, and I introduced family and friends to cons if I thought they might like them, and I even bought the Fandom Directory most years, and made some penpal friends I kept for years and years.

So it was okay! These were my people, this was my thing, all was well. I just kept reading comics and watching tv shows and movies off in a corner on my own. Then in the mid-80s someone brought fanzines -- fanfic fanzines -- to Boskone, selling them out of their room. I poked around the room and discovered a box of zines labelled Star Trek K/S, and when the dealer told me what the slash meant, I handed over my food money for the weekend and took as many as that would buy. *g*

Alas, my roommate for that con had also been to the zine room and flipped through some gen zines, and was dismissive of the whole idea when I mentioned I'd been there, so I figured I would just keep my little stash of slash to myself. I spent most of the next decade still in SF fandom, still with that tiny handful of slash zines, and still not talking to anyone about any of it.

Then I got online and plugged "forever knight" into what passed for a search engine at the time (I'm pretty sure this was pre-Alta Vista; I can't for the life of me remember how I did the search now, but I remember Alta Vista coming along later and being blown away by what an amazing search engine it was).

And then I realized that I'd finally *really* found my people. *beams* And here I still am, more than 20 years later. ♥
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
for [personal profile] kass: reminisce about your first fandom. What did you love about it?

This ties back into the first post I did, about the people I encountered first in fandom: my first online fandom foray was Forever Knight, and I adored it. Part of it was the fandom itself; I really had a blast, met some great people, wrote my first fanfic there*. Part of it was just that it was the first time I realized that hey, I really am a media fan -- and wow, other people liked this weird little show that I loved! Cue fandom honeymoon phase. *g* I should say upfront, though, that this was nearly 20 years ago (wow, seriously -- next spring/summer will be my 20 year online-fandom anniversary), so I've lost a lot of details, and a lot of what's left has turned rosy in memory.

I kept going off on tangents here about my pre-FK background, but suffice to say that I didn't know any media fans, and was always surrounded by people who thought it was weird to want to watch a tv episode more than once, or tape it so you didn't miss an ep, or talk about a show in any depth. So to find people who not only liked to watch tv the way I did, but loved this one particular oddball, late-night show, was amazing. I only had a computer at work for the first year or two, so I would stay late and go in on the weekends to keep up with everything. I looked like the world's most dedicated employee. *kof*

Then I started going off on more tangents, because my remembered love of FK is inextricably linked to my delight in finding the internet and online fandom at large: the lists, the shared culture (and the bits that weren't shared), using tools like IRC and FTP, putting fannish images into a rotating screensaver, realizing that the lists were full of women -- not exclusively, but there were a lot of women, and it was so rare for me to find women who liked the things I liked.

So all of that was also great, and is a huge part of my memory of FK fandom.

I loved the way the fandom structured itself. The main list was Forkni-l. Basically everyone was on that list; that's where the fandom lived. There was also a fic list, fkfic-l, for gen fic, and an ftp archive to store the stories that got posted there; an erotica list, JADFE, for het or slash erotica (this kinda blew my mind, that you could get erotica so easily, and slash, too! that wasn't about Kirk and Spock!) (not that I was specifically looking for non-K/S, just that the only slash I'd seen in almost 15 years was K/S, and it was a revelation that people were writing it for other characters. IDK, I was sheltered or something.). And partway through second season, another list was created, FKSPOILR, for spoilery discussion, to keep the main list safe for people who didn't want spoilers. I actually joined the spoiler list! ... For about a day, then realized nope, I really didn't want to know. I was happier on the now-spoiler-free main list. (No, I didn't imprint at all on the idea that spoilers should be kept completely separate from general conversation, why do you ask?) And the different factions would form off-list "loops", where they could focus more intently on the characters or pairings they liked, without taking over the main list, which then got to stay for general show discussion that everyone could participate it. It was the best of all worlds, IMO; a really centralized place where the entire fandom hung out together, and lots of smaller offshoot areas where people could focus on their own thing.

It was a great gateway fandom for me all around. The list was active and full of people who liked all sorts of different things about the show, and that "we all like different aspects and characters" was built in to the list culture in the form of factions. Which I guess might sound confrontational? But they weren't; factions were just a way of letting people know what character or pairing you liked best, and it absolutely didn't mean you were bashing other characters or fans of other characters. (There was even a faction for people who liked all the characters equally.) It made it really weird for me later in other fandoms, when things started turning into "well, if you like that pairing, you must hate this other one!" because -- no? It's just not my thing, and that's okay. And there was never a limit on factions; as the fandom grew, the number of factions grew, as people liked more and more things. There was room for absolutely everyone. Not that people didn't some time get a little over-invested in their factions, but mostly the point was to have a good time with it.

The faction thing was also the first way I learned about fandom wars -- but not like any other fandom's wars. FK wars were giant round-robins where factions competed and collaborated and had a blast. They wouldn't have been nearly as much fun if everyone approached the show from the same direction.

Forever Knight also started me on the road to technical competence, as I learned how to hook two VCRs together to dub tapes so I could swap with other people (this seems so meaninglessly easy now, but it was hard then; I had an idea of what I wanted to do and knew it was possible, but the guys at Radio Shack were utterly flummoxed. And the cables I used were like nothing I've used since; they were specifically for dubbing VCR to VCR, and when I finally unhooked those two original VCRs last year -- no, really, they'd been hooked up all that time -- I didn't even recognize the cables). I learned what IRC was and how to use it, including things like dcc'ing files around, and then made friends with people in the IRC channel who I'm still in touch with nearly 20 years later, and it's still one of my favorite ways to get to know someone. I learned not to be shy about contacting people, whether to see if I could get tapes with the Canadian eps (which I could, and which I still have some somewhere <3) or just to strike up an offlist conversation.

I went to parties and gatherings, mostly with the local slash contingent, where we had a good time. My favorite memory of that was someone trying to figure out the name of the episode where a particular thing happened, and everyone saying no, that never happened, until someone realized she was talking about a Susan Garrett story. *g* (Seriously, very easy to mistake one of her stories for canon -- she created an OC that was so well-drawn that he had his own faction.)

I got my hands on whatever images I could; I just found a folder with a bunch of FK images from 1996 and 1997, although I don't know whether I got these over email, IRC, AOL chats, or what. They're mostly tiny by today's standards, but I loved them; I think I put them into a rotating screensaver. At least one is a digital manip. I'm grinning all over my face looking at them now; I remember them so well!

I got exposed very fast to the idea that TPTB were around and interacting with the fans; we had both actors and behind the scenes folks on the list, and while Nigel Bennett (Lacroix) never said anything publicly that I remember, Fred Mollin (the music guy) used to post fairly regularly. When Sony decided to try tie-in novels, they read the archive and hired three fanfic writers to write them. Really good training for the steady erosion of the fourth wall, when you get right down to it.

FK was the first time I heard people talking about songs that went well with particular fandoms; basically they were talking about vidsongs, although I'm not sure if I quite understood that at the time. I remember a conversation with someone where I was all "oh, huh, it never occurred to me to listen to music like that, to match it to a show" and them saying that once you start doing it, you can't help it, you do it all the time. I think I thought that was a little silly. hahaha. *looks at 'vid ideas' music directory*

Basically, reading that list was my favorite part of the day. I got into huge offlist conversations with people, often because we had different takes on things and it was fascinating to see how other people interpreted things. I found out about other fandoms there as well; there was a lot of overlap between FK and Highlander, especially, and people would mention what was happening on Highla-L or hlfic-l, not to mention all the crossovers. There was a little less cross-cultural stuff with the Due South list, but there was some, and I'm pretty sure FK is how I found the DS lists.

I loved that it was my entry into online fandom, and that it just kept going long after I'd moved on. I still recognize names as I move around fandom, especially if they're faction-based; there's just no mistaking a faction-based name for anything but what it is, and I smile every time I see one.

♥ FK ♥

* ahaha, no I didn't. I just made myself check. I'm always completely positive that I wrote my first fanfic in FK, and I'm always wrong; it was Due South, after which I wrote a couple of FK stories. But FK was such a well of firsts in other ways that it feels like the first one I wrote in, regardless of the truth. It is, however, the only fandom where I ever wrote fic under my real name. *g* At the time I figured I'd do gen under my real name and slash under a pseud, but that was way too unwieldy so I just switched to all-pseud, all the time. (back to post)


Full request list here, still open!
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
For [personal profile] james:

the first or one of the first people you encountered in fandom

This is cracking me up, because James is one of the first people I remember coming across online (which is the fandom I'm defining this as). *g* (hi James, I have known you foreeevvvver!) I don't think I ever said boo back then, though, other than probably sending in an age statement for JADFE (♥) So I'm not sure if it counts as "encountered" or not.

The first person I encountered face-to-face was a woman whose name I no longer remember, although I have visual memories of her and her home.

I was all about Forever Knight in those very early days, mostly lurking on Forkni-l, and someone offered to host people for... something. Season premiere night, maybe? Just general tape-watching? I don't even remember, but I decided to go, and showed up to find the house decorated in Raven images because she was a Ravenette. *g* I was pretty charmed, and we had a good time, even though I was the only person to show up, which was a tad awkward what with us not knowing each other at all. Those were the days when people actually did think that if you met a person from the internet in person, they would turn out to be an ax murderer, so it was nice to have that disproved!

I lost touch with her almost immediately, probably because I wasn't in her faction (much though I love Janette), so I wasn't hanging out on her faction loop at all. Someone posted to the main list about the list's IRC channel, I think on Efnet back then. I had no idea what IRC was, but the post included some instructions, so I got a copy of mIRC and logged on one night. It was great! Turns out it's one of my favorite ways to be fannish to this day, although now I tend to avoid public channels.

Back then, #foreverknight (that's an IRC channel, not a hashtag) was full of tons of people (for mid-90s values of "tons of people") chatting away pretty much 24/7. I got to know a bunch of people pretty well, enough that our conversations would start to dominate the main channel and annoy people, so we broke off into a private channel instead, where we hung out for ages.

And I'm still friends with a handful of them! (waves to [personal profile] eviltammy, [personal profile] ithildin, [personal profile] ninjababe). I've never met Ninj in person, sadly, but got together with Ith, Tammy, and a couple of other friends at Syndicon East in 1997 (that con was a vector -- for years and years later, I'd run across people and find out they'd been there, too); Tammy and another friend came to visit me for a few days at my place; Ith, Tammy, and that same friend and I all went and spent a week on Cape Cod one bright, cold November, where at least one waitress couldn't take it and had to ask us where we knew each other from, because we all had such vastly different accents. *g* And where we accidentally broke into a pirate museum. ♥

Off IRC, meanwhile, I was eventually hanging out with the UFfers, both online and locally. One of the oddest moments was realizing at an UFfish party that I was talking to a woman who went to the church where my cousin had been a priest, and that we'd both been at the same Mass at that church at least once. And she remembered the priest I remembered from my childhood, who'd switched from my parish to hers before moving on again later. It's a small, small world, people. Alas, I've long since lost touch with all of those folks; something about the faction itself, or the faction loop, or something, got less appealing to me, and I just moved on to Due South without much of a backward look at some point, really.

It's really amazing how many people I still know from the 90s in fandom, though. Although huh, thinking about it, I'm still in touch with people from FK, and people from TS (good lord, I still know so many people from TS!), and a few people from Pros, but I think the only people I still know from my DS days are those who moved on to TS about the same time I did. Strange.


Full request list here, still open!

(I should really get more icons so I can use appropriate ones for these...)
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
I'm sorting out a bookcase today, the one that has my media tie-ins. I've purged a lot of them over the years; fanfic gives me more of what I want. But I used to buy anything I could find for any show I loved, and I've hung on to a bunch, especially Star Trek books.

I used to buy a lot of Star Trek books. Some of these I'd forgotten I have; the only way to fit everything is to have doubled rows of books, and the titles in the back rows tend to fade. But today I'm looking at everything, and wow. Seriously, I'd forgotten.

Before VCRs, in most cases your only hope of knowing what happened in an episode was to actually watch it live as it aired, whether first run or rerun/syndication. But for some shows, you could buy books.

James Blish wrote adaptations of (almost) every episode; they weren't perfect, as they were written off scripts rather than final episode transcripts, and they were short stories rather than being particularly fleshed out, but. You could have the episodes in your hands!

I bought as many of the original paperbacks as I could find used, when I discovered these, but I couldn't get my hands on all of them. I was buying in the mid-80s, and there just wasn't much available; used bookstores weren't quite in vogue yet, and I could only get to one con a year with their fabulous dealers' rooms full of rows and rows and rows of used and new SFF. Then the Science Fiction Book Club offered four hardcover volume "Star Trek Readers", which collected all of Blish's adaptations, and I bought those, too. So now I have doubles of almost all of it, and still can't bring myself to purge any of them. *g* What if one day there are no more reruns or DVDs or blu-rays or downloads or anything!!

Blish wasn't the only one writing; a few years after him, Alan Dean Foster wrote adaptations of the animated series, which I also got my hands on, to my delight, as I'd never seen the animated show. Again, I don't have them all, but at least I had something.

And I bought behind-the-scenes books, and making-of books, and anything else I could. (Anyone else have "Chekov's Enterprise"?)

And then I discovered a couple copies of a treasure trove I'd had no idea existed: in the late '70s, Ballantine started publishing "fotonovels". I wound up with copies of Metamorphosis and Day of the Dove.

Metamorphosis front cover )

back cover )

They used comic book layout, with multiple panels per page in various combinations to carry you through the story, using tricks like outlining specific people in a white panel border to show that they're in a different place (like talking over communicators), or that a conversation was cutting back and forth on screen, so the still picture would have both face-on shots together. Although someone appears to have decided that that looked silly, because by book #10, they were no longer doing that - so it's less cheesy looking, but also a bit less fun. *g* Some photos spread seamlessly across a two-page spread (which, wow, has to have been a BITCH to print -- there are no whitespace margins in these books, they're pure photos).

interior pages )

I didn't want to break the spine on the book to get a sample of one of the two-page photos, but they're there.

The front of each book has a short cast list, including guest stars, and a two-page interview with one of the guest stars.

The back of the books have a helpful glossary to explain the terms in the book, from basic ST stuff like "communicators" and "phasers" to episode specifics like the disease one of the characters had, the planets involved in the ep, etc. Plus there's a quiz at the end, to see how much you were paying attention! (Answers on the very final page, so you didn't have to wait till the next book came out to see how you did.) And there would be a teaser photo from the next fotonovel, with a descriptive blurb. They packed a lot into these little books.

I'd completely forgotten about these, but man, now I remember how over the moon I was when I found them way back when. It was like being able to watch the episode any time I wanted!!

Even with VCRs available not long after, these were still fabulous for a long time, because a VCR was only useful if you had episodes to record - and the money to buy enough tapes to record more than a few episodes of anything. A single VHS cassette cost as much as ~10 fotonovels.

I kinda wish the trend of making these had started about five years earlier than it did, just to see how widespread it might have become before it got completely overshadowed by VCR tech.

(Seriously, these are so cool.) (How do I not have a TOS icon?)
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
My tivo keeps bringing me random episodes of Inspector George Gently, and every time I see it in the list, I get a jolt of "aw, Martin Shaw! <3" In my Pros days, I watched all kinds of things because Collins or Shaw were in them, because -- to my latecomer eyes, at least -- Pros fandom seemed to have just cheerfully annexed every single source with either of them and declared it vaguely canonical to the wider Pros fandom universe, and would write stories about those characters without any explanation of who they were.

I was out of the fandom when Gently started airing, but I'm still on some of the mailing lists, and must have seen the show mentioned at some point to have such an instant reaction to the name.

... Man, looking at Shaw's IMDB page, Pros hasn't been a primary fandom of mine in a decade or more. The last non-Pros show I actively sought out eps for was Always and Everyone, which went off the air in 2002; I'm pretty sure I only got some first-series eps and just never kept up with it, because I was already drifting away. Wow, how does that even happen? In my memory, I was in Pros for years and years, but if this is right, it was maybe five years tops.

Time really does fly, whoosh.

(Okay, I just went link-hopping, as you do, and holy cow, Dave is still regularly updating the "authorised guide" site. That's some serious dedication.)
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
(If you want to link to these and keep the cut tags intact for people, link to my front page or link to this archive page)

For the Meta Month of March thing ([community profile] month_of_meta), someone asked for "Tales of fandom past. Anyone who was around in the mailing-list era or before...I want to hear How Things Were Different Back In The Day."

Which made me feel both really old and like a raw newbie again (there were so many days before The Day! so many people have been around so very much longer than me!). But I also thought to myself, well, this is something I can do. I was there, I really enjoyed it very much, and it won't be that hard. It'll be a little bit long maybe, but not too bad.

Then I started writing. I wasn't entirely sure where to start it, or what angle to approach it from, so I had five or six different starts written out. And then I just started writing, and writing, and writing.

Yeah, this got ridiculously long, even for me, so I'm breaking it out into three posts.

First the disclaimers and caveats: This is what my experience of mailing-list-based fandom 10-18 years ago (oh dear god) was like, to the best of my recollection. Other people had different experiences, sometimes hugely different, depending on when they came into fandom, what fandom was their gateway, whether they were monofannish or not, whether they were into slash or not, whether they lurked or were active, etc. The only thing that would be mostly the same for everyone is that posts were made, distributed, and read via email.

I had written up a giant step-by-step explanation of my fannish background for context, but it boils down to this: I started out in SF fandom in 1980, found a few slash zines in a dealer's room around 1985, and then totally failed to connect further with media and especially slash fandom until around 1994, when I got on the internet through work and discovered Forever Knight mailing lists. I knew about newsgroups but for some reason they intimidated me, and I stuck to lists; looking back, I regret that, as the newsgroups were hugely active and I probably would have had a lot of fun if I could have adapted to the way they worked.

My personal experience is with Western, tv-based fandoms that revolved around discussion of the source, producing fanworks (which wasn't a word yet - we wrote fanfic, drew art, made vids, tribbed to or edited or published or agented zines), consuming fanworks (likewise), and to some degree attending (or putting on) cons. If you came in through SF fandom, you might say all of that, including the participation in lists/newsgroups/cons/APAs/zines, was your fanac, a term that I wish had gained as much traction as fanworks, because it doesn't narrow down the field of "people who actively create fandom" to people with creative urges.

As time went on I slid more and more toward slash-based fandom, but with the same emphasis as before on discussion, fanworks, and interaction.

Okay, so, with all of that out of the way, here's my take on what mailing-list fandom was like, from about 1994 to the early/mid-2000s.

The medium defined the message )

Signal-to-noise: bandwidth and storage )

Size limits: text, images, video, music )

Things were pricy )

Looking back on it, it all looks sort of wretched, no? Slow, creaky, limited, expensive.

But at the time, it was amazing. $3,000 for a 4 G system sounds like a lot of money 15 years later -- but 10 years earlier, I'd've paid $3k just for a 15 MB hard drive and installation kit, plus another $2k if I wanted a second unit. My computer had a graphical user interface! It had a web browser! (I didn't have one at work; we didn't need them. We had email, and if you knew enough to ask, you could get a newsreader, too. What else could you possibly need?)It had an internal modem!

We were living the good life.

ascii art )

part 2
part 3
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
(If you want to link to these and keep the cut tags intact for people, link to my front page or link to this archive page)

(disclaimer in part 1)

Finding fandom

It wasn't easy to stumble over fandom in the 1990s if you didn't have a specific interest in it. Which doesn't mean it was hard to find!

But fandom wasn't being talked about on tv, or in random newspaper/magazine articles, or being linked to off mainstream sites. Media companies weren't hosting forums to try to corral people's fannishness into appropriate venues, where like-minded people could easily find each other and link off to other more fannish sites; mostly TPTB were sending C&Ds to people who posted pictures of their show, and being very wary of this whole "world wide web" thing that was taking control away from them.

(source: a 1997 cache of the page X-File Fan Fiction Links, found on Wayback If you click that link, it will look different than my image; I made my browser's background black before I took the screenshot, so it would look the way it did originally. There were an awful lot of black-background XF sites around then...)

Most fans were careful never to publicly link back to (or even mention) fan sites, to protect each other. If there was a newspaper article about us somewhere, it got talked about and linked (or quoted, if it wasn't online) all over the place, as something rare and strange and worrying (journalists almost always got it wrong, for one thing).

(Fifteen years later, I still twitch when I see people linking to archives or vid sites or individual fanworks in public forums, particularly media-controlled forums. The instinct to hide was instilled that strongly.)

And really, everything, not just fandom, was out of sight in the very early days. The web was brand new, small, and scattered, and consisted of lots of little pockets of interest that weren't very well connected. Search engines were in their infancy, as well, and not everything was indexed.

But pretty much, all you had to do was look around on the web or Usenet for your preferred source's title, and you would manage to find something that would point you in the right direction.

Online services companies )

Links pages )

Webrings )

Fanlistings )

Where the fans were talking

Discussion was the primary function of fandom in the 90s, at least in my corners of it; fanfic was great and got devoured, but it was secondary to talking about the show. (Although for that matter, we also talked about the fanfic.) While there were people who only wanted the fic and ignored the discussions, there were also people who only wanted the discussions and ignored the fic. And where today someone watching an episode might think "I wonder what would have happened if he'd accepted the coffee?" and write a 600-word snippet about it, back in the day they were as likely to post the question to their preferred discussion place and start a conversation about it that could last for days. (Or vanish without a ripple. You never knew.)

So fans were talking all over the place, and there was a good chance you could find a format that worked for you; if you didn't want to talk, you could lurk and watch other people talking. Like anything else, it was 5-15% of the people doing the talking in most places, while everyone else lurked.

Newsgroups )

Mailing lists )

Message boards )

IRC and other forms of chat )

Personal websites and archives for essays and reviews )

Where the fans were reading fanfic

To start with, if you were on newsgroups, mailing lists, or message boards, you were very probably reading fanfic there as well, either mixed in with regular discussion or on separate fic-specific groups/lists/boards.

Beyond that, the two main ways to find fanfic was on archives and on personal web sites.

Archives )

Personal webpages )

Newsletters )

Monofannish or Multifannish

There's a myth that it was hard to be multifannish in the heyday of mailing lists. It wasn't hard at all, even before Karen's site; it was just that if you didn't have multifannish tendencies to begin with, it was easy to be monofannish and just play in the one sandbox that interested you. You could ignore anything that wasn't relevant to your own personal interests.

Looking for more fandoms )

Spreading the cross-fandom word )

part 1
part 3
arduinna: a tarot-card version of Linus from Peanuts, carrying a lamp as The Hermit (Default)
(If you want to link to these and keep the cut tags intact for people, link to my front page or link to this archive page)

(disclaimer in part 1)

Time to talk about actual mailing lists!

Mailing lists changed over time; in a lot of ways, this goes back to "the medium defined the message" again.

(I'm going to caveat here and say: some of this information is 18 years old and got dug out of very dusty corners of my mind. This is all to the best of my recollection, but take that with a grain or six of salt, please.)

A brief history of lists )

General list etiquette )

Gen v Het v Slash )

Public and private lists )

What did people talk about, anyway? )


Spoilers )

Posting fanfic )

TPTB on the lists )

Getting/trading source )

So I will wrap up with:

Getting to know people on lists )

And that is my incredibly long, yet incredibly brief and incomplete, look at fandom on mailing lists.


part 1
part 2

October 2017

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