Yesterday, I attended Day 1 of the 2010 Browncoat Ball. (The picture shows a Firefly soaring over the Charlotte skyline.) I'm a member of the Charlotte Browncoats (although not exactly in good standing in terms of attendance lately) and one of the organizers had approached me to ask if I could put together an author panel for the opening day of the shindig.
Turns out I could!
I have several "conference friends" within driving distance who write and publish on Whedon who agreed in a flash. We assembled like the Avengers and made plans to hawk our wares at the "space bazaar," then lead an hour-long panel on what we do, why we do it, and how we do it. When asked by a passerby what these books were about, I quipped that we write "fan non-fic." I think I like the term.
I'll admit that I didn't really know how this would turn out. The Browncoat Ball is definitely a fan event rather than a pointy-headed academic event (while popcult academic events are pretty much devoid of the snooty professor types, the stereotype lingers) and I'm there with a book that retails for $35. (The publisher's main audience is libraries, not individuals.) I offered the book for the discount I receive - actually, I had two prices; one for Browncoats and a jacked-up one for any of the Alliance faithful. So I went, lugging my box o' books, fully expecting to lug it home again.
I only have two copies left from my box, which I'll just hold on to rather than return. Just as gratifying to me, I have more than $40 in donations to Equality Now - a charity close to the heart of many a Browncoat. I offered to autograph any books I sold in return for a donation of any amount. ("Any amount?" one person asked, possibly working their way over to slyness. "Sure," I said, "Just think of how much it's worth to not have women stoned to death and put that in the jar." Plenty of singles, but at least there wasn't jingling change in the jar.)
The best part? The people. I hadn't done a fan event in quite a while and I think I forgot how much sheer joy is involved. Whedon once said that "the future is the past in a blender" and he used that approach in Firefly. In the bazaar, I sat behind my table and yakked to everyone passing by. I saw amazing henna tattoos, gorgeous Asian-inspired fabrics, very funny Hawaiian shirt fabric (my favorite was either the fortune cookie one or the dinosaur/spacefield one), and one terrifyin' space monkey in a Kaylee dress (complete with hair ribbon!).
While the crowd at our talk was small (let's face it, we were scheduled opposite the burlesque class!), they were dedicated, asking insightful questions and showing more than polite interest. Then it was back to my house on the Rim while the luau got rolling. I can only imagine the actual Ball tonight!
Fans in groups. They can move the world.