This weekend my friend Robby Hilliard was presented with the prestigious Hank Reinhardt Fandom Award, ostensibly for his service to Dragon Con’s Filk Track where he has served as Director, but also for his contributions to fandom in general. Robby is a ding-dang, top-notch, A#1 Nerd, and I’m glad to know him.
In case you got hung up on the word ‘Filk’ in the previous paragraph, all you need to know is that it’s a musical genre featuring lyrics with sci-fi/nerd-centric themes, and is associated with sci-fi conventions, where it has been lovingly looked after for decades. Weird Al didn’t invent what the genre, he simply weaponized it.
I first learned about Filk in my 20s when reading a collection of stories by sci-fi author Larry Niven. I recall reading a piece he wrote documenting his experiences at World Con sometime around the 1970s. It provided a fascinating glimpse into earlier days of fandom, when a lot of traditions were first being established.
Imagine my disappointment this weekend when I found out from Robby that Larry Niven himself had physically been in attendance at one of the events in the Filk track. I’m not sure if I can forgive Robby for not tracking me down and bringing me to this panel, even if he was completely unaware that I was such a fan of Niven’s work (Niven occasionally dropped in a Niven-focused Newsgroup I belonged to back in the 1990s).
Anyway, congratulations Robby, for everything you have done and continue to do in the fan community! :)