Science Fiction Trading Card Spotlight - Tammy Coxen

Our next Science Fiction Trading Card Spotlight features Tammy Coxen, who is displayed on card number 199 from the Science Fiction Collection.  Tammy is what they call a SMOF (Secret Master of Fandom). She started working on fan-run conventions in 1997, eventually becoming chair of her local convention, ConFusion.  After attending her first Worldcon in 2000, she became active in Worldcon fandom and has held a variety of area and division head roles.  In 2014 she was the chair of Detcon1, the 11th North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).  She continues to work on conventions near and far, large and small.

Are you still involved with science fiction today, and what role do you play?

I am still an active convention runner. I’m currently the Division Head for Member and Staff Services for Dublin 2019, An Irish Worldcon. I’m also active with Worldcon 76 coming up this year in San Jose, California, where I’m helping with the Retro Hugo presentation. On a more local level, I’m head of programming for Capricon, a regional convention in Chicago, IL.

How early in your life did you start enjoying Science Fiction?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading science fiction.

How has science fiction changed from when you were younger? What do you like or dislike about the changes?

I love that there are so many different stories being told today. I also appreciate that we have people from so many different backgrounds – race, ethnicity, experience – writing and being written about in SF.

How has your involvement in the community been important to you?

Through convention running I’ve made friends with people all over the world. I love getting together with them when we are at the same conventions, but I also enjoy keeping up with them on social media. It’s nice to see events in the world reflected through so many different eyes.

What does it take to be convention chairperson?

Excellent cat herding skills! More seriously, good leadership skills is probably the most important thing. The kinds of conventions I work on are all fan-run. Since no one is getting paid, the only reward people get is the recognition of their peers and feeling like they have done a good job. As chair, it’s really important to create an environment where people feel excited to work on the convention, are all working toward the same goal, and feel recognized and appreciated for their contributions. It also helps to be very organized person with excellent tolerance for lots of email. But those things can be outsourced to assistants if you are weak there, whereas inspiring people to want to work for you is something you can’t really have someone else do for you.

What do you think about electronic books that you can download versus the actual physical hard copy?

I love e-books! As a very busy person, I’d largely given up on reading except for vacations and long plane flights where I’d bring books along with me. Once I started reading e-books I started reading much more often again. They’re always with me, which means that I can read in little moments of my day – waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in the doctor’s office.

Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a trading card? 

No, never in a million years!

When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?

I didn’t meet Walter in person until the 2017 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We’d exchanged a lot of email leading up to the convention though, getting him set up to give presentations and honor our guests with cards.

If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?


What are your favorite books past and present?

I’m really horrible at “favorite” questions.

Who is your favorite celebrity and what makes that person special?

I don’t really understand celebrity culture. They’re just people who have a more public job than I do. I’m not someone who feels like they need to go out and meet celebrities and collect autographs.

Did you play Video games growing up and what were some of your favorites?

My dad was always an early technology adopter, and he would always buy the “better” tech, not the popular tech. So, we had Beta while everyone else had VHS. So, my early video game playing was Donkey Kong on the Colecovision. We did eventually get an Atari 2600, I really liked Safari and the ET game there.

If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?

Centipede. I always loved playing that one, even though I’m not very good at it.

What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games?

Just like with books, I appreciate the diversity of game styles and viewpoints that are present in video games today. I don’t play any games currently, but I have friends who do, and have played off and on with my son growing up. We had some great bonding experiences over the Lego Universe MMORPG – it was something that we could really enjoy doing together.