Frequently Asked Questions
Conventions in General
What are conventions?
Conventions are organized events where like-minded people gather to interact with each other on a given subject. The subject could be anything, Sci-Fi is only one subject of many types of convention that are held across the world.
When did conventions start?
The origins of conventions have been lost to the mists of time, but suffice to say they've been going for longer than many people think. One popular notion is that conventions started with the advent of Star Trek in the 1960's. This isn't true; they've been running since at least 1936, though some claim the first was actually in 1891!
How popular are conventions?
It's estimated that there's several conventions held every weekend somewhere in the world. Sci-fi conventions are by far the most common.
What happens at conventions?
In the early days, the likes of writers and film-makers would go to these conventions to swap ideas and discuss various aspects of a given topic. Since the advent of television, conventions have evolved radically. These events are now more fan orientated. Conventions are opportunities for fans of a writer, film or TV series to meet the people who appear on the silver screen or TV tube. What actually happens differs from convention to convention, but that sums it up in a nutshell.
Are conventions like I've seen in Galaxy Quest and The Simpsons?
Some are, but most aren't. Don't forget, these two shows were poking fun at conventions, so things were exaggerated somewhat. Yes, some imagery and characters portrayed were accurate, but the numbers involved are nowhere near the truth. Virtually all the people who go to conventions are normal, every day human beings.
Fans and Fandom
What is a fan?
A fan is a person who takes an interest in the work of another person or persons. This work could be anything from watching plays written by Shakespeare, to following a given football team. Being a fan goes beyond simply liking something. A fan of classical music will have many copies of the same piece, but performed by different orchestras. A fan of a football team will often own the team strip or other items.
What is fandom?
Fandom is the generic term for the fans of a given subject. For example; the football team Manchester United has many fans, or Manchester United has its fandom. What is interesting to note, is that many TV Soaps have their fans, but there's no predefined fandom for them.
Can sci-fi fans tell the difference between fact and fantasy?
In a single word "Yes", and they can do it better than most people. What you've heard is the outpourings from the less intelligent areas of the media. This media will devote enormous amounts of time and energy in reporting the latest gossip in the Soaps, then they'll poke fun at someone wearing a Star Trek shirt! Have you ever noticed throughout the years that fans of Soaps will send flowers when a character dies, or buy a wedding special when two characters get married? The irony is that it's these same people that accuse sci-fi fans of being unable to tell fact from fantasy!
Do sci-fi fans dress up and pretend to be Captain Kirk?
Do children re-enact what they see on TV? Do football fans play football while wearing their favorite team strip and pretend to be their favorite player? Do we all fantasize about being somebody else at times? Of course, we do. Sci-fi fans are no different, so the answer to your question is yes. Mind you, please don't think that all sci-fi fans like Captain Kirk; some dress up and take the mickey out of him!
Why does the press portray fans as people who don't have a life?
The popular daily press doesn't care about people. They only want to sell papers. Therefore, they pick on minority groups and hold them up to ridicule. Can you imagine what would happen if the papers mocked people who watched Eastenders and Coronation Street? Yup, sales would plummet! Many fans have learned to avoid talking to the popular press. In fact, some conventions even print warnings about the press in their literature!