WITH STARS IN MY EYES
by Peter Weston
336 pp/$17.95/September 2004
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Science fiction fandom has an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand are the fans who read science fiction and watch the movies. They may participate in writing fanfic and even attend science fiction conventions. On the other hand, there are those fans who immerse themselves with the history of the subculture. This second category, which is not entirely separate from the first, has a large quantity of written sources to use to examine and learn about the past. One of the more recent additions to this literature is Peter Weston's With Stars in My Eyes.
Covering a period from Weston's introduction to science fiction fandom in Birmingham, England through his participation in the 1979 Worldcon held in Brighton, With Stars in My Eyes is a memoir based on numerous articles which Weston wrote for a variety of fanzines over the years. Rather than just reprint those articles, though, Weston has edited them into a more coherent whole with a great deal of new material which more than just links the articles together and creates a work which is more than just the sum of its parts.
While fandom may appear as a strange compilation of humanity at first glance, the key aspect of fandom is the shared interest its participants have, not just in science fiction, but in other aspects of life as well. Fandom has a tendency to bring together people who otherwise might not have had anything in common, as well as draw in people who are eccentric in a variety of amusing ways. With Stars in My Eyes does an excellent job of showing the leveling aspect of fandom. In his earliest days, Weston was involved with people who had real jobs, students, and people who eschewed the traditional way of life. In the early chapters, Weston takes delight in relating stories about Cliff Teague, who thought nothing of traipsing around the country looking for books.
What comes through in these and other stories is the feeling of family, friendship and kinship that develops between members of fandom. While some members of fandom may appear strange at first (or second, or even third) glance, the key is that these are people who provide a support group. What makes the book interesting, however, is Weston's stories of the strangeness which accompanies this support group.
Many members of the first type of fandom have no interest in these stories and wouldn't pick up a book like Weston's. For those who are in the second group, or willing to enter the second group, With Stars in My Eyes provides a treasure trove of anecdotes about the people and events which helped make British fandom (and, by extension, worldwide fandom) the thriving community it currently is.
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