Revisiting Fan Fiction

2021 is here, and, so far, I’m not impressed. But, as the year laughs at my meager expectations for it, throws them down in the mud, stomps on them, urinates all over them, and then flips me the bird for good measure, I press on. 2021 is a petulant child, and perhaps a lot of encouragement and a few timeouts will train it up into an acceptable adult.

And let’s not rule out spanking. I will put this year over my knee if it pushes me too far, no matter what Psychology Today says about the damage to Baby New Year’s tender self-esteem.

I believe I’ve mentioned that I haven’t been writing. Or have I? In case I haven’t mentioned it, I haven’t been writing. But then you know that, don’t you? If I had been writing, you’d be reading about it here.

In an effort to get myself back in touch with the writer within, who has taken to living in a shack with no central heat or running water somewhere in the uncharted wilds of my cerebral cortex, living off Squirrel meat and hoarded cases of Key Lime LaCroix, I have been revisiting opuses past. (Opii?)

To wit, I’ve been reading and gently correcting (which involves neither timeouts nor spanking) my fan fiction, written between 1982 and 1996. I’ve also been sharing it on AO3, as I’ve been sharing some of the works of my late mother-in-law, Bev Volker, and her sister, Nancy Kippax.

Writing characters not your own in universes you didn’t create can, if approached with care, but a stimulating mental exercise for the writer. Going back and reading those exercises can be pleasantly nostalgic. It can also be cringe-worthy. If you’re honest, it can give you a glimpse into who you used to be and how you got where you are.

And, at the end of the exercise, maybe—just maybe—you’ll feel up to doing original writing again.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, if such appeals to you, my Fan Fic page has been updated with more links to the works that jump-started what we laughingly call my career. (And if you look closely, you’ll see that one more fan fic slipped out of me recently.)


On Change

If you’ve found this piece because you want information on The Forsyte Saga, you can skip my personal ramblings by clicking here.

Those of you who have kept up with me recently (that’s enough of you to count on two hands and allow for some digital amputations) know that I’ve pretty much gafiated from science fiction fandom.

For the unenlightened:

GAFIA (“getting away from it all”) + -ate

To drop out of fandom community activities, with the implication of “getting a life”.

I don’t know about the “getting a life” bit, because being part of SF fandom has been quite a life for most of the last 40 years. But my relationship to the community has, as Robert A. Heinlein once noted about dying relationships, begun to stink like rotten fish. I won’t go far into the details. I’ll just say that I feel like a misfit in fandom, the place one used to go to be a misfit and still be accepted. Alas, now it’s just a community of like-minded and judgmental cool kids, like any other clique.

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The Colonel’s Plan – It’s a SCAM – Part 2 of 6

The officer investigating informed me that the Department took calls about cases like yours every day. He wished there was more they could do to help, but there really wasn’t. The number traced back to a Jamaican account with no subscriber information. Via newspaper articles, I learned that the scammers lived in cardboard shacks in Jamaica, bought pay-as-you-go phones by the dozens, and murdered each other to get hold of the lists of phone numbers of seniors in the U.S. that they could call to scam.

And, boy, were you on lists! You received several pounds of mail each day, 95% of it fake sweepstakes offers, letters from alleged attorneys offering you money, and, of course, checks that you were not supposed to deposit until you called Bob or Jason or Melanie.

The Jamaican called you later that evening, after both the police officer and I had left. He was now offering you 2.5 million dollars and a car but wanted to know why you had called the police. 

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On Facebook… Or Off It, Rather

I announced late Tuesday night, possibly early Wednesday morning, that I had deleted Facebook’s apps from my phone and tablet and closed the perpetually open browser tab for it on my desktops and laptops.

This was not a rash decision. This had been building for some time, and, as I said in that post (call it a “flounce” if you will), it was time.

I can say a lot of good things about Facebook. It brings to my attention news items that I might have missed. It lets me know about the joys and sorrows of family and friends. It’s kept me in touch with my cousins in Carolina, my high school best friend in Omaha, and lots of old friends who live around the corner, but whose paths don’t cross mine often if at all. They’re all good people and I like knowing what’s going on with them.

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Life Without Lazarus – Day 4

He pulled the legs off crickets, just one per customer. The crickets would hop in circles, suffering.

He would torture, but not kill, a mouse; and he usually let it escape. We had maimed rodents in the walls.

He would sleep on top of books, because a book with a body on it was less likely to be picked up. A book not picked up was less likely to siphon attention away from him.

If a book was in active use, he bashed his head into its corner rhythmically, until threats of exile and violence ensued.

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Life with Lazarus – Day 725

Thursday Night – looking drained.

October 17, 2019

You get that feeling that you’ve heard this story before…

Almost two years ago–shy five days–I posted that Lazarus (the scruffy, orange fellow pictured above) had liver cancer. And then he didn’t. He had pancreatitis. Still, we were told he was going to die. Soon. And then he didn’t.

Two days ago, we were once again told that Lazarus probably had liver cancer, and we began mourning all over again. And now he doesn’t have liver cancer. Honestly, I think the boy’s liver was a gift from Loki, or maybe Anansi. It likes to f**k with us.

I also think that I’ve found cause to deny Harlan Ellison’s claim that “Let me help” are the three most important words in the English language, even up against “I love you.” I think “It’s not cancer” are those words for me. This is not the first or the second time I’ve heard them, about a cat or a human, and their emotional impact simply cannot be described.

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Remembering Lew Aide

At 1701 hours on September 26, my old friend Lewis G. Aide, West Point graduate, IT Wizard, Convention Magician and actual magician, first responder, senior center volunteer and NeighborRide driver, left this life.

And he left it better than he found it.

I met Lew in 1986, probably at a committee meeting for our Star Trek convention, ClipperCon. I don’t recall the exact circumstances or what we talked about. I know I first heard his name on a phone call with Marion McChesney. I was doing the con program book and needed to verify the spellings of all the staff and guest names. “Oh, there’s two people you haven’t even met yet,” she said. “They’ll get a kick out of being listed as committee members.” Marion played fast and loose with formalities. She had met these guys somewhere, and just decided they should join us. Lew Aide was taking over my old slot as “assistant film chairman,” also known as the poor schlub who threaded the 16 MM films and, more and more in those days, popped the VHS tapes in and out. Marc Lee was the other new “hire.” He was filling the new committee position of Being Marc Lee.

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The Colonel’s Plan – A Gold Mine of Junk

December 5, 2018

Dear Daddy –

Tonight I’m cleaning up the basement a bit more. Still working in the train room, as I’m calling it now. “We have a train room?” Christian asked me recently. “I’m just so amused that our family has a house with named rooms. Do we have a skinning and tanning room?” (He may not have said “skinning and tanning.” It was something just as absurd. It may have been “taxidermy.”)

This is a somewhat cleaned-up view of the East room of the basement. Before about a 40% clean-out, no view from one side of the room to the other was possible.

In all these weeks, I don’t believe I’ve discussed, in depth, how the basement came to look the way it did when you left us—the way it had looked for decades before that. I believe I mentioned the dreaded trip to the Sacred Heart Hospital in Cumberland, but I don’t think I told the whole story. So here goes.

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Speaking Personally

“It isn’t personal,” they say. “Don’t take it personally,” they say.

Well, I take things personally. Always have. Probably always will. For me, there is no “just doing my job,” or “just following the rules.”

When my First Grade teacher taught me to read, she was just doing her job, but it was personal to me. She called me her “Young Spaceman,” and I loved her. She had given me the greatest gift in the world.

When my Third Grade teacher threatened me with a tree branch, because she was following her rules and I wasn’t, it was personal. I frustrated her. She pretty clearly hated me. When my other Third Grade teacher (my father fired the entire school on my behalf and took me elsewhere) taught me my multiplication tables, a year late and after much struggling, it was personal, and I loved her too.

In high school, when the yearbook advisor told me that our senior yearbook would likely not be published until the class after ours had already graduated, it was personal, and I stayed late every day for two weeks, getting the layouts finished, meeting the printer’s deadline. We had all worked hard on that book, and I wanted it in people’s hands. That wasn’t just my job or my grade, it was personal. I could make a difference, and, dammit, I was going to.

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I missed posting last week, and have not readied one of my collection of “Colonel’s Plan” posts for this week, because it’s Farpoint season. Farpoint, for the uninformed, is a science fiction convention that my family founded. It’s been held annually in Hunt Valley, MD for 26 years now. So I’m very busy. So I’ll be back in touch next week. In the meantime, here’s what I’m up to:

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