Editorial – March 2014: I see, therefore I must have…eventually!
Am I ever surprised? As I’m being rhetorical here, I’ll have to answer myself. Oh, lots of times. Most of the time it’s to do with human behaviour and the definition of normality which always surprises me especially by how much common-sense or thinking for yourself is thrown out the window in preference to idiocy. I’m regarded as eccentric by people who don’t see their own eccentricities make me look quite normal but that’s for a different time.
Discovering this month that collectors are classified as hoarders that could one day be treatable did take me back a bit. I mean, as fans of our genre, find me one of us who doesn’t have a collection at some point or on-going as I suspect it is. We like to collect. For most of us, our collections are our greatest treasures and it preserves our genre culture and we tend to look after it. To be told that collecting anything might be a medical condition and that it might one day be curable is a worry. I mean, we could deny the cure but does that mean that future SF readers might no longer collect? With e-books, there’s already the possibility that the minimalist SF will go digital only but to deny having any sort of collection or seen as an abnormality seems a little harsh.
I suspect that the condition applies to uncontrolled messy hoarders who collect everything or just can’t throw anything away but even so, we are on the scale somewhere simply because we like to collect. My own collection is quite extensive, ranging from books, comics, DVDs and CDs, toys and a little touch of original comicbook artwork amassed in nearly forty-five years all related to our favourite subject. It’s something I feel proud to call my own and it shows something of both my taste and literacy. Whether it truly represents what goes on inside my head, only you can decide, especially as you’ve only seen a fraction of it through my reviews and most of that is deciding what is good and poor material out there. However, to outsiders, it makes us hoarders of material that could be turned into cash than a study of a lifetime. There’s a bit of illogic here in that if we all take the cure, whose going to buy these collections and I can see a lot of it being thrown away.
Even so, it should make you think about your own collection and whether you would be considered ‘abnormal’ for having the collecting habit or how much you’ve collected in your current life-time. Subjectively as to its value, even if it’s only an insurance issue and how much it epitomises yourself as an individual. With all the recent flooding in the UK and the heavy snowfalls Stateside and presumably extreme weather and climate change elsewhere, does your protection of your collection or at least its more rarer items come under the list of what comes first after ensuring all live people are out of your house first as to what to save next. I often wonder if that is why people are now moving towards laptops as they are a darn sight easier to pick up and place under your arm while escaping. Try doing that with your collection. If anything, we look after our collections and I can’t even recall our media coverage of any collection being destroyed in natural disasters. In other words, we tend to be good insurance risks. If its clutter, its loved clutter, not something we would be ashamed of having or taking care of as a hoarding problem.
Most collections start off accidentally, especially for my age group. Back in the 60s, an American comic cost four times as much as a UK comic and because they were mostly complete 25-30 page colour stories and frequently re-read, they weren’t seen as disposable. From such beginnings, early collections were made. It was hardly surprising that it looks like hoarding to outsiders. As we progressed to books and magazines, it’s hardly surprising we kept the same ethic, long before valuations were given to them. If anything, I find comicbook grading odd simply because they are meant to be read and not sealed in a bag untouched forever. For all you know, especially those that are sold pre-bagged and never opened, the interiors could be the cheapest comic ever and you would never know, well, except by the people who bagged them.
It does make me wonder if there was a ‘cure’, would any of us take it or have to tell relatives that we wouldn’t if they thought our collections were out of control? It brings interesting legal problems up. Although Science Fiction does have a better acceptance now than at any other time, we are still thought of as being slightly odd for our continued interest outside of the latest blockbuster.
In some respects, I do think our collections are becoming a bit more selective. There’s simply too much stuff out there for anyone to claim to have everything or even want everything available in their particular speciality. However, the benefit of that is that its far more likely that we all are going to own unique collections which means the span of our genre will be preserved better than at any other time.
Although I still find the thought of being ‘cured’ of my habit weird, it should make all of you ponder on the ramifications when your family look at you oddly with currency signs in their eyes and stopping you caring about what you collected over a lifetime.
The long and short of it is that we are custodians of Science Fiction culture and should be seen as such and not as hoarders.
Thank you, take care, good night and listen out for the till signs.
A Zen thought: Good writing gives confidence to the reader to continue reading.
Observation: You know how you can look at some abbreviated words and think you know what they mean and never give them another thought? So, how many of you looked at ‘rom-com’ and thought it had something to do with computers?
Polls: A couple months back I convinced the boss that we ought to include polls on the website because it gives a means for us to see some of your feedback and reaction to various things. Is isn’t there so we can spam you or make other gains off of you, just to get some collective insight. They won’t bite back and no one else sees them or who put in the answers. Trust me and tick something here when you see them.
Don’t forget to check out the SFC Forum, from the links at the top of the main page, for where companies have their stands at this year’s conventions and for book signings. You don’t even have to sign in to get the information although it would be nice if you did, if only to express some opinion on the various surveys/polls that are there.
Beware Of Virus Attacks: December 2012, even though I hadn’t left an active link to my email address, it got solidly attacked and then blocked from everyone, including myself. By necessity, having a form of open contact to me comes as part of the editor’s job. I’m still seeking reviewers and new material so follow the paths through the website and go where no spam-bot dares. I’ve yet to see them write anything. Humans and aliens can apply, providing they live in the UK. Monsters need to prove they can read and write. We could do with some reviewers who like fantasy right now. Don’t be scared of the instructions, you’d be surprised how easy it is to learn. So, if you want to contact me, build these words into an email address: gfwillmetts at hotmail dot com I won’t bite, especially as I’m hunting for fantasy reviewers right now.