Published by Gregory Benford on December 29th, 2017

How to be a Berkeley Fan:

Gregory Benford

(A fanzine piece from the 1970s…)

Frown a lot. Either wear your hair very long or shave it off completely – no compromises. Drive a little foreign car that nobody can identify, or else hitchhike everywhere. If anybody asks, deny reading either Locus or Focal Point. Find an Eisenhower jacket and wear it constantly – even in bed. Cultivate a dreamy, dislocated expression; occasionally don’t finish your sentences. (The ideal state is to have everyone watching out to be sure you don’t wander into traffic.)

When TAFF is mentioned, say “Yeah, isn’t it terrible about X winning?” – every few years, change who X is. Be very serious about films. Sample sentence: “I’ve been trying to get beyond Z for a year now.” Always have wood chips, organic raisins, old doorknobs, etc., in your pockets. Occasionally leave some of them at a friend’s house for safe keeping. Don’t read any prozines.

If someone is reading New Worlds, say you look at it every once in a while to catch all the really subtle head stuff they’re running these days. Spend a solid week in Donaho’s pool, refusing to come out, and then never go back in. Praise: “This fanzine is really in the here and now.” Put Down: “Does Geis put out this thing?”

Be totally organic. Never go to a con more than fifteen miles away. When meeting a pro author, for the first time, stare at him intently for 30 seconds, then say slowly, “I see it, yeah, now I see it,” then move away distractedly. Every once in a while let someone see you burning a stack of fanzines. Cultivate an obscure rock band, tout them as “The new Beatles,” and a month later, in conversation, say “Plastic. Lost it all,” and change the subject. Have a theory of fandom that compares Ellison to Napoleon. When they pass something ineffable to you, say, “No, man, I don’t want to bring me down.”

Never, Never to go Los Angeles.

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