Thursday, 26 February 2009


It’s not only the future which remains an uncharted continent: the past is just as capable of sneaking around and biting you on the butt. Shortly after I returned from running the Eastercon fan lounge last year*, Ann exiled me to the attic; no, not like the hideous mutant twin in some Lovecraftian potboiler, but because the second floor of our home contains the accumulated debris of my near-forty years on this planet.

Old fanzines, books, comics, toys, film posters, lost religious relics… The attic is crammed to the rafters with the odd, the obscure and the patently useless, much of which has never actually left the premises, a curious side effect of buying the house you grew up in. More terrifying, there are glimpses of other potential life paths left untrod: computer manuals from a two-year cul de sac in the mid-1970s when I hedged my career bets by taking a programming course at college; layouts and synopses for comic strips; the clockwork cine camera with which I toyed at becoming the next Ray Harryhausen; heaps of notes for novels and short stories aborted or stillborn. It’s strangely both unsettling to see so many youthful fancies buried under so much dust.

The only real constant is box upon box of fanzines, the bulk collected in the long-ago days when such material was the mainstay of British convention auctions, but very nearly as much archived during the past decade. That’s the great strength of fandom: like attics, it never demands you act your age.

*Intervention, Liverpool, 1997

[First published in Omega #22, October 1998]


  1. I wish I had an attic to fill with all my treasures (some might say crap, but I say treasures). I have two cupboards in my flat and they're literally heaving with books, games, old toys, magazines etc.
    Every time the urge to go all minimalist strikes me, I end up throwing out things that I end up several months later searching for and finally realising my mistake.
    So I've decided to hoard and be damned.

  2. Ann wrote a lengthy piece on the curse of being married to a packrat for our fanzine Thunderbox.