Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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The need for secret histories

As I am writing this, huge crowds have gathered in Lucca for what is the largest event in Europe centered on Comics and Games. For the long Halloween weekend, hundreds of thousands of visitors will crowd the narrow alleys of medieval Lucca, prowling the stands of publishers big and small, meeting artists and authors, trying new videogames, ogling cosplayers, and suffering the bad weather, the crowd and the noise.
Then they will come home, will arrange all that they bought on their beds or on their living room floor, and take a picture, that they will post on their socials, showing the world their “loot”.
Which is curious, because looting implies taking without paying, while the merchandise on display in these photographs cost a nice chunk of money – to which one must add the travel expenses, the lodging and food.

But these are the rituals of those that, in my country, call themselves “i nerd che hanno vinto” – the nerds that won.
And this, I think, is revealing – because we had a name, for people crowding conventions, that we used for decades before the nerds won whatever it is they did. We called it the fandom.
The fact that these shopaholics do not identify as fandom, but as a quite different tribe, the nerds that won, is telling.

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The Fantasy Guilt Trip

2dw9ugiA rambling post, tonight.
A friend of mine just posted a long and rather disquieting (to me) piece on his blog, about the systematic harassing of women that seems to be an established element in what I’ll call, to be brief, “fantasy fandom” (which to me includes SF, comics, games, the works).
You find it here – it’s in Italian.
The author, Elvezio Sciallis, is an independent journalist and a fine critic.

Now, the idea of women being harassed and discriminated in what I consider my community scares me and pains me on two levels.
The first is, such behavior is not something I can accept – the examples cited really hit me hard.
I hate these guys.
The second level is possibly even harder to stomach – my experience of science fiction and fantasy fandom never caused me to think such problems were in any way widespread, or something more than an occasional asshole to be rounded up and isolated.
Therefore, now I ask myself: have I been lucky, distracted or, damn, part of the problem myself?

Does the fact that I read old pulps and fantasy and SF make me a sexist, racist individual?
Am I instinctively what I hate intellectually?
And as I normally do nowadays, I’m writing to set my thoughts straight – and you are reading my ramblings.
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