Friday, 14 June 2013

Life in the Dark Times

Too many young readers of this you will find it difficult to believe that there was actually a time when there was very little science-fiction or fantasy on TV or at the movies. To many of us this is known as the "Dark Times".

Star Trek the next generation didn't arrive until 1987, and that was only in the USA. For many of us in other countries we would rely on friends to tape episodes and send them to us by mail. I can hear the horrified screams of the none believers now, "you had to wait how long to watch things".  I remember my first viewing of a Next Generation episode here in Australia, to convert it to the Australian system someone had played the tape back on their US compatible equipment and then recorded it using a video camera that had framed the tv, it was all very high tech.

We were of course with out any Doctor Who after 1989  and the only English sci-fi was Blakes's 7 that ended in 1982. Yes  this was the time that produced the original Star Wars 1977 and then the first Star Trek movie 1979, plus we had Alien thrown in there for good measure, but it was still only every two years or so that we saw any new product.

So what did we do to keep the faith, to hold onto our fandom and dream of the heady days that were to come.

We would have club meetings. In Fan clubs around the world people  would get together and discuss their favourite shows and episodes, talk about conventions,  a rare thing to attend a convention in those times. Write new stories using, a typewriter and publish them using photocopiers or other ancient technology. 

It was called costuming in those days and not cosplay, as the concept of performing as your character was still in it's infancy, and if you came wearing a costume that had only a passing resemblance to the character or in a full Marvin the Paranoid Android outfit you were applauded for your efforts.

But those days did have their perils. I remember being at a small convention in Melbourne, where a well known costumer had arrived in is Marvin outfit  only to discover that the elevator to the convention floor was out of order and he had to walk up stairs. So he promptly removed the costume.

It was a sight not soon forgotten  to see several men carrying bits of Marvin into the convention floor and one fellow in is underwear then proceeding to climb back into the suit.
We are blessed today with such variety of product and activities at our disposal. The ability to communicate easily, but every now and then take the time to just get together for no other reason than to say hello.

It still fascinates me that the fan community is one of the most inclusive of groups world wide welcoming all comers,  perhaps that is the greatest legacy of the Dark Times.

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