WHO ARE WE?, or, NOT A CAPE IN A CARLOAD

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Title: WHO ARE WE?, or, NOT A CAPE IN A CARLOAD
Creator: Ted Bryan
Date(s): November 1977
Medium: print
Fandom: Darkover
Topic:
External Links:
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WHO ARE WE?, or, NOT A CAPE IN A CARLOAD is a 1977 essay by Ted Bryan, the editor of many of the earliest issues of Darkover Newsletter.

This essay appeared in Darkover Newsletter #8.

It was written in response to a critic who'd called Darkover fans "fat 13-year olds in capes," a description that still rankled the editors, and fans, of Darkover Newsletter.

Another response to the critic's label was the Letter from MZB in Darkover Newsletter #7, as well as Walter Breen's comments in that issue.

Some Topics Discussed

  • statistics regarding gender
  • other Darkover fans' fannish interest
  • Darkover fans' occupations and ages
  • no fat 13 year olds
  • mention that many of the female writers did not include Miss, Ms., or Mrs. in their correspondence
  • a proposed formal survey of Darkover fans
  • a statement that George Lucas was inspired by Darkover for Star Wars

Excerpts from the Essay

The "study group" for these comments were taken from information from 600+ fans who had cards "on file" with Friends of Darkover. Ted Bryan, the essay's author, said it took him about an hour to find the statistics.

Of the 430, some 37% are male, 51% are female, and the remaining 12% undetermined from available information (though the vast majority who write letters for publication are female!). The "undetermined" includes a couple of bookshops, five married couples where we don't know which spouse is the fan, and some 44 who subscribe only with initials or whose names are unisex or ambiguous--names like Ashley, Barak, Chris, Dara, Darren, Dusti, Kerry, Lanin, Lee, Leslie, Pat, Rhondi and Robin. The surprise here is not the unisex names—these have been fads every few years—but the clear female majority, which is unusual in all fandoms known to us with the nossible exception of STAR TREK groups, which do overlap with the Friends. (Jacqueline? Are the Trekkers mostly women? It didn't look that way at the Trekcon I attended last year, but Trekzine people may be a different story.)
You people include a few teenagers, dozens and dozens of college students, and a few admittedly in their 60s or older, though no age distribution is available. You come from all over the USA including Alaska (2) and Hawaii (3), all states being represented to date except Miss., Montana, N.D. , S.C., W.Va. and Wyoming. More of you (79) are from California than from any other state, followed by N.Y. (30), Illinois. (23), Mass. (21), and Arizona (19) in that order; Pa. and Texas are next at 18 each, Fla. and N.J. follow at 16 each. Nine of you are from Canada, one from Australia, one from the Netherlands (we are still wondering how he got his back issues), and four have only Army PO or Fleet PO addresses. Big cities are not nearly as heavily overrepresented as expected: a lot of you are from small towns or have Rural Route numbers, and some very large cities like Wilmington, New Haven, Des Moines, and Charleston are not represented at all as of this writing.
Some of your letters mentioned occupations, avocations, commitments, other fandoms, and the like. Several of you are M.D.'s, at least one is a chiropractor, there is at least one R.N., several are editors, there are a couple of literary agents, any number of professional writers (and manv gifted amateurs), teachers, Navy personnel, etc., but the largest single group appears to be college students. A few are MENSA dropouts and probably others still belong. At least a dozen are known members of SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism—medievalists, for those of you who've been asking); many more are devotees of Tolkien, and several dozen have mentioned Dungeons & Dragons or similar games. Fanzine fandom is under-represented —possibly 20—but over three times that number admit to attending science-fiction cons, or have been seen at them (some of you got on our mailing list by attending Friends gatherings at cons). At least 100 have mentioned STAR TREK as a major interest, but we don't know how many of you have been attending Trekcons or reading or contributing to Trekzines. (Jacqueline? That's your province!) As yet fewer than 50 have specifically mentioned STAR WARS, but it's a safe bet that a lot more of you have seen it at least once. (And yes, it HAS been pointed out that laran is a manifestation of the Force, and that evidently Lucas was familiar with some of the Darkover books- Several times.) Typically, any one individual will prove to be active in three or more of these classifications, and what they have in common is alternative universes, fantasy worlds, and the like, which is reasonable enough for devotees of Darkover. "Had I but worlds enough, and time..." But aside from the SCA people, for whom capes are as common at tournaments as propellor beanies used to be at science-fiction conventions, we haven't found even fl dozen of you who admit to wearing a cape, or even one who admits to being 13 years old. The youngest subscriber who actually admits his age is 16; the oldest, 71. Another surprising thing: the vast majority of the women use noncommittal name forms like "Jane Doe" without stating Miss, Mrs. or Ms., and the exceptions are few: only 6 Ms., 2 Miss, and 13 Mrs. Of the 13, five use forms like Mrs. Mary Doe, one uses Mrs. John Doe, and the rest use initials or ambiguous names after the Mrs. In a later issue we will run a Questionnaire to learn a bit more about just what kind of people you are (anonymously) and to share the results. Maybe more of you will realize you aren't minorities of one.

References