From Outworlds 50. Copyright 1987 by Bill Bowers. Reprinted by permission of the authors.

Into the room filled with hushed and respectful men and women waiting for his word stepped the Sayer of the Law. He was tall and walked with a nerdy little half-shuffle, but all saw on him the vestments of his authority: the nametag, the propeller beanie, and the black bow tie. The red light from around the corners of the room reflected from his eyeglasses, which seemed to have been made out of the bottom of Coca-Cola bottles, edged with wire rims. He set down his bheer, ascended the podium, and cleared his throat. An expectant hush fell over the eager faces of those assembled. The Sayer of the Law shook his incipient jowls and intoned:

"Now begins the Saying of the Law!" The strong voice rang out.

And all the fans turned upwards to the speaker, and as one the voices filled the room, and even the hotel corridor beyond.

"Are we not fen?" they replied.

"Not to call it sci-fi, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to wear pointy ears or long scarves, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to have California Crap in our zines, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to have the Worldcon on a boat, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to go to programming, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

The Sayer of the Law smiled. This was good. His father and his father's father before him had led the fen in the Saying of the Law at each secret Worldcon gathering, just like this one. Thus had it been since the days of Roscoe, when Tucker was doing Le Zombie, and even Harry Warner was young. Many had tried to stop the Saying of the Law--the Shaverfen and fringefen, the Trekfen and 'drobes. All had failed. And all would fail!

There were rumors of a strange, dark history of which no one spoke. Some said that all those in the room--even, some hinted, the Sayer of the Law himself!--had all originally been among the most feared enemies of the Law: the Mundanes. Then, these rumors said, some unknown, fantastic, astounding (and F&SF) surgery had reduced their wallets but enlarged their vocal cords, typing muscles, and waistlines, making them fen.

But the origin mattered not--they were fen! The audience grew restless, and the speaker nodded and began again.

"Not to run with the Logans, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to do our zines in reduced offset, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to vote awards to those we disagree with, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to bind prozines with staples, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to sit where Dave Kyle says you can't, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

"Not to read the stuff anymore, that is the Law."

"Are we not fen?"

The figures in the red-lit room began to sway in unison with his chant. The Sayer of the Law straightened his bow tie and held out his hands in blessing over his congregation--zinefan and apahack and conchair alike, he blessed them. From such eager disciples would the SMOFS of tomorrow come--the BNFs, the Fan GoHs, perhaps even another Speaker of the Law when his own days were through and he retired to his past glory and to FAPA. He lowered his hands and began the stirring conclusion in a rhythmic voice, pounding the table and almost spilling his bheer:

"His is the hand that stencils!
"His is the hand that mimeos!
"His is the hand that collates!
"His is the hand that staples!
"His are the words on the paper; his is the zine in the mail!
"His are the ink-stained hands; his are the LoCs and reviews!
"His is the corflu; his is the Twiltone.
"His is the house of fanac!
"His are the OE and minac!
"His are the con and the concom!
"His are the Hogus or egoboo!

And in a triumphant, climactic swell came the reply from the excited, almost dancing, figures in the room:


Afterwards, the men and women began to relax, knowing that in that moment they had all experienced that ultimate, still moment of peace beyond understanding, the lovely sweetness of the direct experience of trufanhood.

The Sayer of the Law looked out over the satisfied crowd in front of him, femmefan and manfan, young and old alike, and was happy. No one exactly knew anymore who the "him" referred to in the Saying of the Law was. Was it Yog-Xipcode, eater of fanzine, whose hungry tricolored maw must ever be appeased? Was it Ghu, god of fanac, or Corflu, god of goo? It could not be Kalahaba, god of turn-signals, that being another mythos altogether. Some had even whispered that "he" was Roscoe himself.

Giving his propeller a jaunty swirl, the Sayer of the Law walked out of the red-litten ceremonial room and into the earthtone tacky monotone of the convention hotel corridor. A few departing fen smiled at him with unabashed admiration in their eyes, and he was pleased to see them going back to their various fannish activities.

In one corner, some smoffed, speaking of Worldcon sites. Others cranked mimeos and slip-sheeted. The bathtub was being filled with the traditional lime Jello. Learned elders spoke of Laney and Degler, while younger ones invoked the name of Korbas and snickered. Worldcon bidcoms grew, split, and rejoined, like crazed amoebas. Blog was quaffed and crottled greeps were eaten. Filksongs were sung.

The Sayer of the Law looked, and found it good. As he closed the door behind him and walked down the hallway he smiled and whispered to himself, "Yes.

"Yes. We are fen."

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