The fourth annual Norwich Sci-Fi and Film convention should have been a peaceful affair. A day where Star Wars fans could mingle with like-minded enthusiasts, meet the man who played Bossk and perhaps discuss the event’s generous £1 all-day parking offer without any hint of trouble. But then the Doctor Who fans showed up, and all hell broke loose. Police were called to break up the warring sci-fi tribes after one of them reportedly shouted, “I’ll knock your fucking head off” at a rival following a dispute about a Cyberman autograph. It was a mess.
There’s only one way to stop a tragedy like this from happening again, and that’s to understand the complexities and rabid passions of each of these tribes. Here’s a handy guide to sci-fi gangland.
Fans of Doctor Who. May dress as their favourite incarnation of the doctor. May prepare recipes from Dining with the Doctor: The Unauthorised Whovian Cookbook (sample dish: Big Brother House Bad Wolf Brand Human Chow Cookies). May also produce hand-drawn fan art of the doctor’s companions and post it on Tumblr. Do not enrage them by abbreviating “Doctor” to “Dr”, referring to the companions as assistants or claiming that you like Peter Cushing best. This is just asking for trouble.
Trekkies (or Trekkers)
Fans of Star Trek. May dress as obscure characters. Some may speak Klingon or make heartbreaking “filk” ballads about the show’s army of dead redshirts. There are many sub-factions of Trekkies. For example, fans of the original series may not get along with fans of The Next Generation, and those who like Deep Space Nine might not like anybody. Some Trekkies also hate Whovians, thanks to a perceived slight in a novel once, although this has largely been quelled by the publication of Assimilation2, a graphic novel where Jean-Luc Picard teams up with Doctor Who to fight the Borg and Cybermen. Despite everything, it is still difficult to find anyone who will admit to liking Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Star Wars fans
Perhaps the most mainstream of all fandoms. Star Wars fans are responsible for deeming 4 May “Star Wars day”, for making Jedi the country’s fourth-biggest religion in the 2001 censuses, for starting and maintaining Wookieepedia and for creating such demand for new Star Wars output that they inadvertently helped to invent Jar Jar Binks, their all-time arch-enemy. Like other fandoms, Star Wars fans will often attend conventions in cosplay costumes, although not always successfully.
Fans of the Joss Whedon sci-fi series Firefly. Named after the independent faction that fought against the alliance six years before Firefly began, there are at least seven tribes of Browncoats in the UK alone. Upset by Firefly’s premature cancellation, the Browncoats spend their days arguing over the show’s correct episode order, writing lesbian slash fiction about the show’s female charactersand clamouring for Whedon to open a Kickstarter page to fund a new Firefly movie, even though he’s not really that bothered now he’s got the Incredible Hulkto muck around with.