EDIT:  I keep adding small details to this. Truly, it is a saga that could be told for days.

So apparently, according to Brilliant People on the Internet, I am not a real science fiction fan.

I started reading the RAH Juveniles in 8th grade, when a friend showed them to me. I read Bova, Bradbury, Hugh Walters, Lester del Rey, Donald A. Wollheim, John Christopher, Andre Norton and dozens of others.  Then I hit the book store to stock up on Sir Pterry (Who wasn't known as that then), Asimov, Terry Brooks, Tolkien...

Of course, before that, I watched Star Trek on TV in the UK.  My father tweaked it so we got all four channels in Liverpool, not three.

But I'm not a "real fan."

By high school I had an SF Book Club membership.  I found authors I liked, some I didn't.

I had just finished Basic when I found a bunch of SF at the Exchange--Pournelle (and some of his contemporary stuff), Ing, plenty of other Baen stuff, More Heinlein, Laumer, and the magazines--Asimov's, Analog, F&SF.  I literally have a twenty year stack of magazines in my office.

But I'm not a "real fan."

When we got the word that Bob Heinlein had died, and I never got to meet him, I spent $5 in quarters to call a friend at another base, via payphone, so I could break the sad news to her.  We toasted him the next year.

I also started attending SF conventions in 1988--WindyCon (following an ad in Analog), then immediately ChambanaCon, Capricon, Marcon.  I spent thousands on rooms, travel, parties.  I've missed two WindyCons since--one because I was deployed, the other because I was at a convention in Germany. Until they were 15, my kids had Lifetime Attendee ribbons.

When I checked into the hotel, they asked if I was "Jack Williamson," and I knew who he was and to say no.

At WindyCon, I signed up for the Dinner With The Pros, and I chose...Jim Baen. I wanted to know how publishing worked.

We had jam sessions in the fifth floor lobby, and I watched Fred Pohl walk past, shaking his head as we played something half blues, half Egyptian, in A#m.  Keyboard players can be such assholes to guitarists.

I watched Fred year by year, in person, on panels, as he aged and had to leave us.

I got my roommate and a couple of other troops into the events, and in between, we played D&D, Morrow Project, Aftermath!, everything of Steve Jackson's and Paranoia, in the barracks.  I showed up a year later in my own made chainmail and sword, dirk and boots.

But I'm not a "real fan."

Ah, the parties.  When not skydiving, I was plotting parties. You may have heard of Moderation, because we always drank, in Moderation. Always.  I recall a party where the room was two feet deep in debris afterward.  Beer cases, beverage containers, snack packs, CDs, VCR tapes, unconscious bodies, a dartboard, a size 42 lime green bra.  I am not making this up, there are witnesses.

Oh, one of our co-conspirators is now an internationally famous economics expert.  Others are also hugely known on the convention circuit. But, we're not real fen.

Our reputation exceeded us, with tales of our carnage and indulgence, but it wasn't true. Our parties were always a safe space for everyone.  When some asshole doped someone with LSD at another party, one of our people--a pyschologist--walked them around and talked them down. We had one clown, one time, get grabby. I had Kurt show him The Door. Kurt was a 6'6" boxer turned hypnotherapist, and The Door were Roadkill (biker) and Ogre (that's his legal name).  Any color, any age, any handicap, any orientation, all were welcome, and we never blabbed secrets. Even now, very few people know that Timothy Leary visited our party at Chicon IV.

Our booze bill was $1100, and we ran four days straight, having a grand old time.

I ran the Moderation New Years' BASH for three years.

But the best one was Capricon, the year it was at Pheasant Run Resort:

Jonathan:  Mike, I have conducted initial reconnaissance of the hotel.

Mike:  Go ahead.

Jonathan:  I recommend a six prong attack, and a solid hold on terrain of the 14th floor. (unfolds map)

Mike: I agree with your plan. Proceed.

Jonathan:  Reservations? Yes, we'd like to book for Capricon.

Reservations: What type of room?

Jonathan:  The fourteenth floor.

Reservations:  Will that be a corner suite or a double double?

Jonathan:  The fourteenth floor.

Reservations:  There are sixteen rooms on the fourteenth floor, sir.

Jonathan:  Yes, we'll take them.

Reservations: ...

Come the convention, we had my HQ in one corner, Moderation next to it, the Slime Party, Crystal Blue Persuasion, The Cow Party, the jam room, which had about $50K in instruments and gear by the time we were done, Ogre's Den of Iniquity and two others I can't recall 20 years later.

Oh, we named it the 13th Floor, since there wasn't one, and we stationed lots of party fans on 12, so as not to disturb people who wanted quiet.

Oh, I was also there as a dealer.  I'm not sure about sleep.

We stationed The Door at the elevator, and no one came in without ID.  Clothing became optional.

*BTW, if you've read Niven, Pournelle and Flynn's "Fallen Angels," it references a man sitting at the hot tub wearing a tuxedo top and towel bottom.  That's Jonathan.  We've even wound up in books.  There was a whole small press comic that starred us as well.

But I'm not a "real fan."  

In fact, I was told that back then, too. Those of us in our twenties, partying with artists, cartoonists and ravers until 0700 were not "real fen."

Except, quite of few of my fellow enthusiasts now run some of the major Midwest conventions.  But that's not relevant. We're not real fen.

I've attended literally hundreds of conventions, in three countries so far. West coast, east coast, midwest, south, Canada, Europe (Germany specifically, with book signings in Amsterdam and The Hague).  I've attended Chicon III and IV, MagiCon, LoneStarCon, ConAdian, TorCon, and supported SasQuan and LonCon.  I have voted for Hugo awards, after actually reading the works on the ballot. If I haven't read the slate, I tend not to vote in that category.

I have original art from several well known artists in the house, including some done before they married and changed names.

But according to some people, I'm "not a real fan."

I've been an attendee, panelist, artist, author guest, special guest, guest of honor, filker, gopher, badger, I've run a dealer's room. I've helped in the con suite while a special guest, because I was up early and they had vegetables they needed cut. What, not everyone takes their hand forged Japanese kitchen knives to a con in case of such an emergency?

Heck, back to my first WindyCon, the consuite needed a plastic drop cloth for the soda tub. I went to my car and got it.  Then the needed double sided tape. I had that, too.  Then they needed a screwdriver.  Exasperated, I demanded their list of material needs, went to my trunk and got most of it-poster board, highlighter, scissors, more tape, bungee cords.  I had trouble with the red marker. I only had black.

No one ever guessed it was my first con.

I was at X-con in Milwaukee the year we shared the hotel with an NBA reunion, a Baptist youth group, a bowling convention and the Secret Service preparing for Gorby's visit. Hilarity ensued.

But, you guessed it, per certain elements, I am "not a real fan."

I've arrived in limos, in airport shuttles, and in a friend's borrowed car when mine blew two tires then the axle 20 miles from the con.

Before GPS, I typically drove in the direction of the con, and navigated by nose--if I were an SF con, where would I be?

I was on a first name basis with a dozen authors before I published anything. I invited them to our parties, went barhopping with them, had them sit my kids.  I took Steve Barnes for crab legs and let him use me as a Kung Fu dummy for demonstration.  I took Dr Demento to dinner.  I filked with Spider.  My customers include Dave Prowse and Steven Brust.

I've written fifteen books at this point, and published...a lot, I guess...of short stories through several publishers. I have two REQUESTS on my desk for anthology participation right now.

But, I'm not a "real fan."

EDIT:  Oh, yeah--I also have the .pdfs of Wilson Q. "Smooth Bob" Tucker's fanzine, "Le Zombie," in which he describes "That obnoxious fanboy and wannabe writer Ray Bradbury."  Bob emailed it to me.  I've also bought him Beam Green, and I still have his business card.  "Natural Inseminations. By appointment."

I was the person who realized WorldCon is smaller than quite a few others, and that the Columbus Convention Center was twice the size of a lot of places that had held Worldcons, and had better support. On my inquiry, they offered to hold the hotel and convention space for a time four years later. Offered? They insisted.  Friends took over and actually put a bid together, that the "real fans" shot down because "Columbus doesn't have the facilities."  Right. I watched them host Origins, two other conventions and a Willie Nelson concert simultaneously with room left over.

That's when I started disliking the "real fans."

Unlike some fans...and some writers, I try very hard not to be negative about my fellow pros by name. I did briefly about a particular writer who publicly wished that Jews not read his books.  The "real fans" like him.

Another "Real fan" recently attacked me, and several friends, with a childish epithet about having his testicle hair in our teeth.

His claim to fame? Other than a recent book that ranks a whopping 2.5 million on Amazon?  He edited a translation of a work which original was made into a movie.  

Okay, and?  He's still an asshole.  But I won't name him in public.

If you believe I'm not a real fan, Condescending Blogger, I suggest you are the one who is intolerant, exclusive, hateful and bitter.

Because I wear my nerdhood as a badge of pride and honor.

And you can go fuck yourself.