It struck me tonight--maybe partly because I was effectively lurking, except when I couldn't restrain a remark and/or got put on the spot by a direct question tangential to the actual book--how much this was like my foundational fannish experience: the Lois McMaster Bujold Mailing List, c.1996. I'd already been a fan of LMB's books for a few years by then--I read The Vor Game for the first time when I was twelve, and the rest as I could find them, in whatever order I laid hands on them--but we got internet in the fall of 1995, just before I turned 14. I spent a lot of time in X-Files AOL chat rooms that fall and winter, but I also found my way to the List, which soon became my home and family in a way that is hard to even describe, let alone really make understood to people who weren't on the List then. It was full of all these people who loved the books I loved and had read way more books than I had--who were smarter, more widely educated (whether in schools or through their own experiences), and more articulate than I could yet dream of being, and they never seemed impatient with me despite my overwhelming fifteen-year-old-ness. They were kind; they taught me to expect good things of fans, fandom, and the internet, and to try to be a good thing in turn. I grew up on the List.
And eventually, like all fannish communities, it went a bit sideways, and then I discovered slash fandom: another home, another family. I still go to SF cons regularly, and have gotten to feel very much at home (and surrounded by literal as well as figurative--biological as well as affinal--family) there. But two years ago, determined to have some sort of social life in the city where I live, I started going to the SF book group and, readers, I love my book group.
There's just something wonderful about sitting crowded around a table with a dozen people, listening to them hash out their reactions to a book I haven't read a single page of, because I want to share it with them even if I didn't actually read it. It's this beautiful microcosm of SF fandom--we manage to represent most of the major archetypes, I think--and it's my people. My book group. ♥
Also, when we went around at the end of the night and everyone reported what they'd been reading, the new guy said "the Vorkosigan books" and I actually straight up clapped my hands in delight. One of these years I am going to get the group to read a Bujold book and then I will die of happiness and/or shiv somebody for not loving it enough.
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