Harry Turner's Footnotes to Fandom
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    Henry Ernst


From Space Times Vol. 2 No. 5, (May 1953)

The Varley analysis of Fan Types is not complete without full info on Type 9 - the Femme. Your original contributor in less than fair to this rare phenomenon when he regelates it to a single type. From my own, admittedly slight, experience I should be inclined to say that femmes fall into one or other of three categories and in deference to the original researcher I have labelled those Varley Types 9A, 9B & 9C.

Varley Type 9A - the "quiet-type" or QT: The QT is usually a single gal who feels "left out" at normal gatherings of humanity. When she discovers fandom and fans, instinct tells her that those poor goofs, lost in their fantastic imaginings, are easy meat. Fans who are kind to their mothers and gentle to animals (the Varley Type 2 - Earnest Fans) tend to respond immediately to her air of wide-eyed innocence, and are soon singled out for attention.

With cautiously simulated interest she encourages some inexperienced fan to expound on his favourite theme. In his surprise and pleasure at having found a receptive and understanding audience, the poor guy talks himself into believing that the gal shares all his opinions and judgments on fandom and science-fiction, and gets around to the idea that she is destined to be his life-partner.

Once encouraged along this track, the fan is as good as lost... Having got her man, the QT usually loses interest in fandom and nags her husband about the late nights spent boozing at the fanclub. There are, however, instances on record where the QT has changed to a type 9B or 9C femme.

Varley Type 9B - the "centre-of-attraction-type" or COAT: The COAT is a gay wench, and may be married or still unattached. Her arrival means the rapid disorganisation of any meetings convened to discuss weighty programmes and plans. The gregarious types (male) immediately flock to her side to find solace in mild flirtation - new members are weighed up as potential admirers while the frowns of a disproving chairman are cheerfully ignored.

Conversation with the COAT, whatever its original impulse, contrives indirectly and with a certain archness to get around to more interesting subjects such as "sex". The COAT revels in the unorthodoxy of fandom and consequently is more fun and not so dangerous as the QT.

Varley Type 9C - the "draged-in-against-my-will-type" or DIAMWT: The DlAMWT is usually married, and turns up to meetings merely to keep an eye on her husband and the COAT. She contrives to keep in the background and make herself generally aggreable, watching the proceedings with amused tolerance. Catch her in an unguarded moment, and you will recognise that distinct air of superciliousness that distinguishes the cat tribe.

These descriptions are not intended to be sharp portraits of persons likely to be met in fandom, but are of basic types All femmes combine characteristics of some or all categories, or pass from one category to another. While I have heard rumours that there are femmes who are interested in fan-activities as an end rather than a means, I cannot claim to have met them in person. Unless other researchers can produce direct evidence there seems no reason to extend the categories listed. ■

Although Henry Ernst is a known Harry Turner alias, he denies writing this piece and points a finger in the direction of his old friend Brian Varley.

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