Which was mimeographed in those days, and ran fanzine reviews.
Intermittently over the next couple of years I sent coins taped to index
cards -- the "sticky quarters" of fannish lore -- to various fanzine
editors, mostly searching out material about Tolkien and comics but often
winding up with something richer and odder, like an issue of ENERGUMEN.
Clearly this stuff had heady byways I didn't entirely grasp. Just as
clearly, it had something to do with this stuff about "Worldcons" in Isaac
Asimov's story intros in THE HUGO WINNERS, and something else to do with a
lot of the hip in-jokes scattered throughout Harlan Ellison's work.
I was never a STAR TREK fan. But I read David Gerrold's THE WORLD OF STAR
TREK, riveted not by backstage gossip about Shatner or Nichols, but by tales
of exotic beasts like "the LASFS" and "Bjo Trimble."
But it was all knowledge in fragments. Like being a hippie or a
rock-and-roll pro, it sounded great, but I didn't personally know anyone
with a map. In 1971, I actually managed to find a Phoenix chapter of the
Tolkien Society, and attended one of their meetings, where, being twelve, I
was mostly ignored by all, save for a large fellow named Bill Patterson who
talked to me almost as if I were human. I went away with a copy of the
second issue of TWIBBET, a local fanzine. (Edward Gorey: "The Twibbit, on
occasion, knows / Some difficulty with his toes.") When I showed up for the
next meeting, I found they'd changed the location and not bothered to tell
me. Well, I _was_ twelve.
In 1972, when I entered high school, I hooked up with a crowd of older kids
who were involved in the local SCA, and for a brief moment I thought maybe
these people had the map. But more of them proved to be interested in
hitting one another with sticks than in anything I much enjoyed. Another
blind alley. But I felt I'd got closer this time.
Life went on. I read tons of science fiction, but got involved in other
Then one day, skiffy-reading high-school crony Mark Sordahl and I spotted a
notice in the public-announcements section of the NEW TIMES, Phoenix's
"alternative" newspaper. "The Phoenix Cosmic Circle meets every Friday to
discuss fantasy and science fiction. Call [ ] for directions."
I called. Mark drove. The Phoenix Cosmic Circle was a low-key party in
central Phoenix, largely attended by shaggy guys of college age or slightly
older. "Discuss fantasy and science fiction?" These people barely looked up
from their Diplomacy boards. Another blind alley, I nearly thought.
Then the door banged open, Tim Kyger walked in and emitted a storm of
Firesign Theater jokes, I responded with several more, Tim opened his
backpack and began handing me fanzines and convention flyers, and by the
time the meeting was over I had agreed to (1) come to the meeting of the
other, more organized Phoenix club, OSFFA, the following Sunday ("They're
very _sercon_," Tim confided; "they have _dues_ and publish _book
reviews_"); (2) go to DesertCon in Tucson in four weeks' time; (3) join the
staff of LepreCon 1, Phoenix's first-ever SF convention, to be held two
months hence, and (4) take over, from Tim, the editorship of the Phoenix
Cosmic Circle's official club fanzine TWIBBET. For which the editorial
matter on hand consisted of, er um.
That was Tim in those days: a tireless promoter of a higher-energy sort of
fan acticity than sleepy Phoenix fandom had previously seen. "A fannish
used-car salesman," someone had called him. He was. Good at it, too.
And that evening was twenty years ago as I type these words: January 24,
In the following days and weeks I did in fact attend OSFFA, and many other
meetings of both Phoenix clubs. I did indeed go to DesertCon, where I set
eyes on awesome SF gods like Poul Anderson and George Pal, and--at a raucous
house party in University of Arizona student housing--interviewed Leigh
Brackett and Edmond Hamilton. I did indeed publish TWIBBET, including the
Hamilton-and-Brackett interview and a scruffy hodgepodge of other reviews
and dreadful jokes. And I did indeed attend deliberations of the Leprecon
"concom," august discussions among experienced old hands (some of whom had
been attending cons outside of Arizona for as many as three years) of deep
political matters such as "Westercons" and "blocs" and "bids." And I served
as general dogsbody at the con itself. Feeling terribly important, and
immensely pleased to have finally found the map.
And another thing happened, and another, and another.
And twenty years went by.
And at 5:30 this evening, I dialed the phone on my desk at Tor Books, and
caught Tim Kyger at his job in Washington, DC, where he works as a staffer
for the Senate Subcommittee on Space Science.
"Teresa says I should send you flowers at your office," I explained, "with a
note reading 'In memory of that unforgettable evening twenty years ago.' And
sign it 'Patrick' -- just to see how your co-workers reacted."
"I _like_ it," Tim said.
"I just wanted to call and say, thanks for being a disruptive, pushy fannish
"Hey, any time."
Then we went on to talk as longtime fans do. Which means we gossiped
Patrick Nielsen Hayden : p...@tor.com
senior editor, Tor Books : opinions mine
Me, too. Probably picked it up from Asimov's ramblings.
Found some other Miami SF readers in high school, failed to get
organized or make a connection to Fandom.
Found some other SF readers in college at Notre Dame, including one or
two who had actually seen fanzines and one guy who had attended a con.
Kept a sputtering SF group going for a few years, until SCA combat
practice sucked away most of the active members.
> Clearly this stuff had heady byways I didn't entirely grasp. Just as
> clearly, it had something to do with this stuff about "Worldcons" in Isaac
> Asimov's story intros in THE HUGO WINNERS, and something else to do with a
> lot of the hip in-jokes scattered throughout Harlan Ellison's work.
I recall this feeling dimly. "It's out there, somewhere. I want in."
> I was never a STAR TREK fan. But I read David Gerrold's THE WORLD OF STAR
> TREK, riveted not by backstage gossip about Shatner or Nichols, but by tales
> of exotic beasts like "the LASFS" and "Bjo Trimble."
Yeah. Yeah. I remember.
Somewhere-- maybe it was listed in *Analog*?-- we discovered there was
to be an SF con in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It's a few hours from South
bend. I argued that this was our big chance to connect with Fandom,
and Cons, and all that. Got five people, I think, to cram into a car
and cram into an A**2 hotel room.
It was just twenty years ago this week. The first con called
Confusion (though I understand Ro Nagey had done a onedaycon or
something the previous year).
My friends traveled around in a pack and clung to each other.
I managed to figure out that the place would be full of strangers, and
to have a good time I would have to overcome shyness, make new
friends, start conversations. Fortunately the strangers were willing
to meet me more than halfway.
I remember getting involved in long hallway conversations. I remember
Neil Rest. I remember discussing a hot new novel, *Dhalgren*, with
Scott Imes. I remember seeing Fred Pohl singing and playing guitar
(can this be right? I haven't seen him play since) in a room party.
I began to enjoy myself.
My club-mates were glum and not having a good time. They left early
and took me with them. We never went to another con together.
> Life went on. I read tons of science fiction, but got involved in other
> Then one day,
I entered graduate school at Michigan State. I immediately looked up
the SF club. They had people with pretty strong connections to
fandom. Another social center was their Tolkien Society.
I've never really figured out how I avoided meeting Patrick, since he
was there at the same time.
I drove my overpowered 1965 Skylark to Chicago that fall, dragging a
heterogeneous gang of MSU fen to Windycon 3. My second con. I met
the General Technics people. This time the infection took.
> Then the door banged open, Tim Kyger walked in and emitted a storm of
> Firesign Theater jokes, I responded with several more, Tim opened his
> backpack and began handing me fanzines and convention flyers
> That was Tim in those days: a tireless promoter of a higher-energy sort of
> fan acticity than sleepy Phoenix fandom had previously seen. "A fannish
> used-car salesman," someone had called him. He was. Good at it, too.
Some of my East Lansing friends were in AZAPA. They introduced me to
Tim Kyger in 1978, shortly before he became Boy Chairman of the
Thirty-Sixth Worldcon. He's a wonderful guy, isn't he?
> And that evening was twenty years ago as I type these words: January 24,
Meanwhile, on a lonely highway in the Midwest that Friday evening,
some downy-cheeked neofen were making their pilgrimage to Confusion 13.
> "Teresa says I should send you flowers at your office," I explained, "with a
> note reading 'In memory of that unforgettable evening twenty years ago.' And
> sign it 'Patrick' -- just to see how your co-workers reacted."
> "I _like_ it," Tim said.
Hmm, that's just the way he talks, too.
> "I just wanted to call and say, thanks for being a disruptive, pushy fannish
> used-car salesman."
> "Hey, any time."
> Then we went on to talk as longtime fans do. Which means we gossiped
> about _you_.
I thought my ears were burning...
Sloppily Executed Ideas Department: | Bill Higgins
I'm listed in the *Internet White Pages* | Fermilab
under "JOCKEY, Bill Higgins-- Beam." | Internet: hig...@fnal.fnal.gov
Look it up. | Bitnet: higgins@fnal
>I entered graduate school at Michigan State. I immediately looked up
>the SF club. They had people with pretty strong connections to
>fandom. Another social center was their Tolkien Society.
>I've never really figured out how I avoided meeting Patrick, since he
>was there at the same time.
Could be because in the year I lived in East Lansing, I never made it to any
of the local club meetings, though I attend attend some general parties.
Also, unlike everyone else in East Lansing, I wasn't attending Michigan
In 1980, attending the State University of New York at Stony Broo,
I was sucked into the Science Fiction Forum, where there was a regular
group of of con-going fen, who took me to my first "real" con in early
1981 (LASTcon, in albany NY). The rest, as they say, is history. (And
not one I'm lilkely to ever forgive them for!)
73 de Dave Weingart KB2CWF | From there to here
Personal: phyd...@emerald.princeton.edu | From here to there
Work: dwei...@nielsen.com | Funny things are everywhere
| -- Dr. Seuss
Patrick has a great idea here. And so...
Getting Started in Fandom, 1975
In the summer of '73, I worked at lunch counter in a Zayre (later Ames)
in central Massachusetts. The book racks were right beside the counter,
so I'd often grab a book to scan at lunch. The Whitfield book made me
go back and watch Trek reruns, and the Trek reruns made me start reading
the stuff. I LOVED what I read, and absorbed over a hundred SF books
the first year. The idea of fandom was fascinating to me, but few people
at my very mundane high school were interested in SF or fantasy.
As my parents worked at a college, I'd often go hang out at the college
library. I found people reading science fiction there, started talking
to them about it, and they told me about the college club. I went to
my first WPISFS (Worcester Polytechnic Science Fiction
Society) meeting in October 1974.
The meetings were fun, the college guys were interesting, and they
told me they ran a little con and they drove together
to BOSTON to attend a con every year. While I'd heard about the
big Star Trek conventions in New York City, the idea of attending a local
science fiction convention was much more appealing.
Technicon was held about 20 years ago today (late January 1975).
Fans from the Boston area (Tony & Sue Lewis, Drew Whyte and
Bonnie Dalzell (?--hmmm, if I could easily dig out the con report
I wrote about it, I'd remember for sure!)) came out and spoke about
trends in science fiction. Fred Pohl was the official guest, and about
40 people attended his talk. I'd just read The Space Merchants,
so getting to talk to its AUTHOR in PERSON was GREAT!
Boskone was in March that year. We piled into a little rotten car
and took the turnpike out to Boston. On the way, a little silver
Corvette sped by us, just missing hitting our rear bumper. The
license plate was California and read SF PRO. For the rest of the
trip, we debate WHO from California could have had a car like that and
a license plate like that. Based on what little we knew, we figured
it was either Harlan Ellison or David Gerrold. As Ellison was my
favorite writer at the time, I was thrilled by the prospect of his
being at my first big convention.
The Meet-the-VIPs party was held around the indoor pool. There
was the GoH, Anne McCaffery! There were Lester & Judy Lynn del
Rey! There were Larry and Fuzzy Pink Niven! I met fans from
all over the northeast that night, falling into a conversation
with Karen Klinck from Buffalo near the pool. We found David Gerrold,
and helped prevent him from being thrown into a pool by a raging WAC
(and, yes, it had been his car we'd seen earlier in the day).
Four women of the club shared an "Economy Single" At $21 a night,
it was all we could afford, but it was roughly the size of a large
closet. As I came in last each night, I got the spot on the floor
in front of the bathroom door.
I loved wandering the con, going to the huckster room and the art
show and those parties. I even got involved in my first hoax bid
at that Boskone---Trantorcon in 23,309, a hoax bid run by
Larry Niven. If you have its progress report, you'll see my
typoed name on the list of pre-supporters (my handwriting was
illegible even then). I went to most of the program, and disagreed with
Lester at one point. I wound up sitting next to Fred Lerner
for a couple of items, and enjoyed talking to a fellow Vermont native.
Conventions were fun. I wanted more! And more later this year,
mebbe when I start talking about the 20th anniversary of my
first fan pubbing...
Oh, and Patrick? Fans gossip! Heaven forbid! It's
"small-scale people-oriented smoffing."
****Laurie Mann * * lm...@telerama.lm.com * * Laurie.Mann (GEnie)****
********* Telerama Home Page: http://www.lm.com/~lmann **************
*****How come it's OK for a THIN person to be lazy and eat lots, BUT****
***if a FAT person is lazy and eats lots they have a character defect?**
Perceptions of fandom began to filter in around 1971; the local
Young Adult librarian was a friend of the stalwart WSFA family the
Derrys. Somehow I got the idea that one had to "train up" for fandom
by reading vast quantities of science fiction, and I started burrowing
into books and prozines. There went several years.
Ted White's prozines, in those days, had fanzine review columns.
I sent for Locus, which reviewed still more fanzines. I formed a
high school science fiction club, published an awful crudzine, and
got it listed in Locus. Trades and sticky quarters trickled in.
I still recall the thrill of reading Ted's editorial in AMAZING (or
FANTASTIC when he reported that the 1974 Worldcon was going to be
held in my backyard: Washington, DC. Wow!! I sent off my $5 attending
membership fee that day. My first con lived up to the months of
anticipation. I met other neofans (none of whom stuck around fandom
long after the con); I collected pro autographs; I attended many many
panels; I took the bus home at 6 every night. I had some vague idea
that there were parties, but no one invited me, and anyway I did need
to go home to my parents before the buses shut down.
Bill Bowers, then a very shy and retiring sort, had a huckster table
at Discon II, and I bought a few copies of OUTWORLDS. OUTWORLDS was
a better example for me to work with; it was clear that I wanted to
publish a fanzine. In those days, in order to publish a fanzine, you
needed a mimeograph. I didn't have one. I figured I'd ask around
the high school to see if anyone knew where you could get a mimeograph.
THE VERY FIRST PERSON I ASKED just happened to have a father who wanted
to sell a mimeograph: the father was closing up a collectible bottle
business, and he had used the mimeo to print catalogs. $50 and it
Conventions? Who needed them! I wanted to publish fanzines and
get locs and other fanzines. I was able to publish
WYKNOT (dumb name) on a reasonably faithful bimonthly schedule throughout
my senior year. (Boy, do I miss the old Third Class Mail postage rates.
I recall that each issue of WYKNOT, about 24 pages, 200 copies, cost me
about $80 for materials and postage.)
The timecrunch of college pretty much ended my short fanpublishing career.
I drifted into apas -- Patrick had recruited me for AZAPA within months
of his meeting with Tim Kyger, which might serve as a demonstration of
how hyperfannish he was in those days. And when Cy Chauvin learned that
I was moving to Michigan, he recruited me for MISHAP. But I was entirely
a paper fan: Patrick was the only non-local fan I'd met, as he'd
stopped by my dorm on a SCA expedition to East Lansing.
There was a widespread rumor that Ken Josenhans, Michigan State
undergraduate & neofan, was a Cy Chauvin hoax. Or perhaps a Seth
So, in early 1976, I'd been an active paper fan for two years but had met
almost no fans in person. (The MSU clubs didn't count: except for Stuart
Stinson, the clubs' members had little contact with or awareness of larger
fandom.) For some reason a group from East Lansing travelled
to Autoclave I, the first convention devoted specifically to fanzines.
I don't recall how we travelled to Detroit, but I do remember the
magical experience of climbing the stairs into a 125-person convention
where I knew almost every attendee, even though we'd never met.
Whenever I'm in Detroit's New Center neighborhood, I drive by the old
Autoclave hotel building -- now a unit of Henry Ford Hospital
-- and I crane my neck to see that staircase from the lobby
to the second floor lounge, the spot where first I saw dozens of fans.
Sometime after that, life got complicated.
Maybe for the next thread we should all write about our gafiations.
"Fandom is a function of underemployment." -- PNH, if I remember correctly
(And I'm now kicking myself. I was so caught up in last Labor Day being
D. Potter's and my sixth anniversary of getting together that I quite
overlooked it being the twentieth of my first convention.)
Thanks for posting that, Patrick.
| PROOF-READER, n: A malefactor who atones for
Alan Bostick | making your writing nonsense by permitting
abos...@netcom.com | the compositor to make it unintelligible.
finger for PGP public key | Ambrose Bierce, THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Key fingerprint: |
50 22 FB 46 41 A3 17 9D F7 33 FF E1 4E 1C 89 79 +legal_kludge=off
>Maybe for the next thread we should all write about our gafiations.
Naaaah. That happened much too long ago for me to remember.
Good heavens. I hardly know where to start. How, for example, did I
end up at a TusCon in Tucson, Arizona ("Did you notice, sir, that this
airport has a white picket fence around it? How ... charming."), where
I thoroughly enjoyed myself discussing World War II lore with the owner,
a military hardware buff of great charm and wide memory? (My primary
memories: the "banquet," consisting of separate meals at local fans'
houses, mine being attended by Gordon Ecklund and cooked by Bill
Patterson); the sewage backing up into my room; being totally lost, as
in my early 20s I still remained shy and unable to talk well with people
I did not know...
Wow. I haven't thought of that in years. I think Tim Kyger had
something to do with me being there as well.
Now you've opened the floodgates of memory, and I recall meeting Steve
Willison in Seattle, who told me I really had to write to Dick Byers in
Ohio, so I did, and soon Dick and I were exchanging letters in Elvish (I
was 13), and soon after THAT Dick introduced me to the Central Ohio
Science Fiction Socity (COSFS) and their fanzine, C0sign, and soon AFTER
that I was writing to point out to one of their artists that hobbits had
"hands and feet, NOT paws and claws." (Many years later Don D'Ammassa
would write to me and point out that I'd once asked him if he wanted to
revive C0sign with me, but I've mercifully forgotten that.)
Some time after THAT, it occurred to me to ask some of my friends in
Ohio if they'd ever heard of a fan group in Seattle, where I was living.
Thus, late in 1965, I ended up joining The Nameless Ones, the Seattle
group which had been instrumental in putting on the Seattle WorldCon
(which I hadn't even heard about -- missed it by That Much, as Maxwell
Smart was wont to say).
Somewhere along in there I met Patrick Hayden and Teresa Nielsen, and
Tim Kyger, and Gary Farber, and Alan Bostick and Jerry Kaufman and
Suzanne Tompkins ("Suzle") and Eli Cohen and John Berry and a cast, by
this point, of thousands.
Thirty years? That's not too many.
Arthur D. Hlavaty hla...@panix.com
Church of the SuperGenius In Wile E. We Trust
I stayed in fandom, married a pro, ran cons, etc. Tom gafiated until a few
years ago, went to Clarion, got a story published in the Feb. 1992
Wonder if it was any good?--Eva
Eva Whitley (ECWh...@AOL.COM)
"The opposite of talking is not listening. The opposite of talking is
waiting." Fran Leibowitz
I've been quite surprised by the number of people responding to Patrick
Nielsen Hayden's reminiscences on getting into fandom in 1975, and
particularly by the number, myself included, who also got into fandom in that
year. Not realising this would become a thread, I mailed him a copy of a
piece on my own first contact - the 1975 British National Convention - which
I'd recently finished and which will eventually appear in a fanzine when I've
tweaked it some more. However, since '1975' _has_ become a thread, I think
I'll post it on rasff as well. Incidentally, PNH predates me fannishly by a
whole two months and four days....
It was 28 March 1975, Good Friday; the Vietnam War was rushing to an end,
Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, and Margaret Thatcher had just been elected
leader of the opposition Conservative party. No-one expected her to amount to
anything. It was an era of long hair and flared trousers, of glam rock and
Kung Fu films. It was a time so long ago that most people thought Meryl
Streep was a throat infection, and so far, far away that Britain's hottest
pop group was the Bay City Rollers.
The Bay City Rollers, who as their name suggests were a Scottish band, were
at the top of the pop music chart having ousted Telly Savalas. No, seriously.
Their number one hit single, 'Bye Bye Baby', was the latest in a series of
vacuously bouncy songs that had spawned a fanatical following of screaming,
tartan-clad girls and led to ludicrous comparisons with The Beatles. The
lyrics of 'Bye Bye Baby' were unforgettable, sticking in the memory with the
tenacity of superglue:
Bye bye baby, baby bye bye,
Bye bye bye baby bye bye,
Bye bye baby, don't make me cry,
Bye baby, baby bye bye.
(repeat ad nauseum)
How anyone of my generation can have the nerve to sneer at today's pop music
I'll never know. Thank God punk was waiting in the wings!
Still, the unimaginable horrors of the Vietnam War and the Bay City Rollers
were far from my mind on that Good Friday as I packed for a weekend at SEACON
'75, the annual Eastercon, Britain's national science fiction convention and
my first ever. I was a beardless youth of 20, clean-limbed and eagle-eyed (it
would be another year before I started wearing glasses), a virgin and, so far
as I knew, the only SF fan in Cardiff, Wales.
I set off for Coventry armed with a change of clothes, youthful enthusiasm,
and great hopes. In my wallet was a packet of condoms (3), because you never
knew. I certainly didn't, anyway. I should've taken a box of Kleenex instead.
The condoms stayed in my wallet until they eventually expired. I gave them a
decent Christian burial. Naturally, I was careful to take along a number of
my SF short stories with me, just in case I got to meet any magazine editors
at SEACON. One of them was a deeply original tale about the last two
survivors of a spaceship that crashes on a paradise planet, and not 'til the
end of the story do you learn that their names are Adam and Eve. What
discerning editor could've resisted such ground-breaking stuff? Wealth and
fame as an SF author lay just around the corner. It still does.
The De Vere hotel was a shocking place. Literally. A modernish hotel with
well- appointed rooms, the De Vere had the worst static electricity problem
I've ever encountered. Walking just a few feet along its carpeted corridors
built up enough charge to cause an audible 'CRACK' as you discharged it on
the next metal surface or person you touched. The brass handrails on the
stairs were a particular favourite. 'Bye, Bye, Baby' may have been at number
one, but heard far more often in the De Vere that weekend was the catchy:
'CRACK'. "Arrgh, shit!"
As a first-timer who knew no-one else at the con I had taken the committee's
advice and allowed them to set me up sharing a room with another first-timer
so there would be at least one person there I could talk with. He was Welsh,
wore glasses, and had thinning hair and an acne-scarred face. He was also
elderly - he had to be all of 30 - and smoked smelly French cigarettes. Try
as I might I can't recall his name, but he was pleasant enough and we got on
alright. I only ever saw him again at one other con after this. I wonder what
happened to him?
Dumping my luggage in the room, I dashed downstairs ('CRACK'. "Arrgh,
shit!"), picked up my registration pack, and settled myself into a chair to
read it all straight through. As I read I peered over the top of my programme
book at the hustle and bustle of the convention, and at the large number of
people who greeted each other enthusiastically, laughed and joked together,
and who were clearly well-acquainted. I envied them their obvious sense of
community without in any way feeling deliberately excluded from it. This
would not be true of a later generation.
In 1975 many wondered where all the Hippies had gone, a question answered for
me the instant I entered the convention hall and saw the audience. This was
where I would spend most of the weekend, religiously attending all the
programme items and hanging on every word uttered from the stage even, God
help me, those of Gerry Webb on 'The Feasibility of Interstellar
Communication' when what I really needed was information on the feasibility
of interpersonal communication with others at SEACON. Pausing only for snacks
and toilet breaks, I sat through hours of films, panels, and the puzzling
ritual whereby various celebrities were announced from the stage by Peter
Nicholls, even though most were in the bar. None of this was made any more
intelligible by the underpowered microphones, which were to cause problems
all weekend. Eventually, I made my own way to the bar and soaked up the
atmosphere myself for a few hours, having a drink with my roommate before
As an impoverished trainee draughtsman my finances were tight so I was up
bright and early on Saturday to make sure I didn't miss the breakfast
included in the cost of the room. Then it was straight into the con hall and
a showing of Stephen Spielberg's 'Duel', a very impressive debut feature from
the director of the year's most successful film, 'Jaws'. This was followed by
a Tom Shippey talk and then by lunch which I ate at the Wimpey near the
hotel, as I would all my non-breakfast meals. This was in the days before the
Wimpey chain decided to become an imitation of McDonald's, and they still
served their wonderfully odd selection of meals, most of which included
something called a 'bender' (which, in anticipation of the puzzlement this
will cause younger and foreign fans, I won't explain). These are now as one
with Tyre and Ninevah, but I can't be the only fan of my generation who still
remembers them with a sneaking affection.
Back at the De Vere, I found myself sharing a lift with the godlike figure of
the convention chairman. I couldn't restrain myself.
"Great convention!" I enthused, drawing on my vast experience in such
"Mmmm," he agreed, looking at me warily.
"I'm really enjoying myself!" I added, desperate to impress and grinning
"Mmmm," he said, beginning to look alarmed. I was about to add to my
incisive critical analysis of SEACON but the doors opened and, with a quick
nod, he fled.
And that was how I first met Malcolm Edwards.
After Harry Harrison had barked and growled his way through his Guest of
Honour speech (I'd originally signed up for SEACON because Michael Moorcock
was GoH, MM then being my favourite author, but he dropped out), I made my
way to the bookroom where he and Christopher Priest were signing copies of
their books, and bought one by each to be suitably inscribed. This was
exciting stuff to me then. Real science fiction writers had signed copies of
their books for me! Goshwowboyoboy!!
Not being by nature a particularly shy person, I frequently fell into
conversation with other people during the course of the convention, including
another first-timer I got chatting to in the book room that afternoon when
both of us were browsing. This meeting would be the most significant part of
SEACON for me, and an electrifying experience. When we introduced ourselves
and shook hands for the first time it was as if a current passed between us.
In fact, one did. 'CRACK'. "Arrgh, shit!" we cried in unison.
His name was Paul Kincaid, and he was a postgraduate majoring in Sexual
Frustration at nearby Warwick University. Everyone else had gone home for the
holiday but Paul had decided to stay on at his campus flat over Easter and
commute to the con. (Anything was better than staying there listening to the
radio playing 'Bye, Bye, Baby' over and over.) Paul had glasses, a slight
speech impediment ("the late show" came out as "fellate show"), straight
black hair, and a sharp, spiky beard that gave him the appearance of someone
engaged in oral sex with a hedgehog. We hit it off immediately, and went to
most of the day's remaining programme items together.
The final event of the day, at 10.15pm, was the Fancy Dress Parade. Back then
this wasn't the slick masquerade dominated by dedicated costumers it's since
become but more of an excuse for a bit of fun. Some entrants portrayed
characters from novels (such as the blue-skinned guy who, despite obvious
efforts to wash the stuff off, remained blue for the rest of the con -
that'll teach him to use emulsion), but more numerous and enjoyable were the
jokers. Those I remember the master of ceremonies introducing were the guy
who painted his face red and his nose yellow ("A boil." - MC), and the person
in a loose rubber suit that covered them completely ("Introducing the De
Vere's proposed solution to the static problem." - MC). Also (and this one
seems so unlikely that it may well be an example of False Memory Syndrome on
my part), con chairman Malcolm Edwards, who appeared wearing short trousers
and pulling a fake toilet along on a piece of string ("A boy and his bog!" -
MC). Hilarious stuff! What a shame people take fancy dress so seriously these
I was up early again the next morning in order not to miss breakfast, which I
ate alone. There wasn't too much going on when I'd finished and wandered into
the convention areas so, Paul having been detained at his university lodgings
by an urgent appointment with a box of Kleenex, I decided to take in the
film. Now, over the years I've suspended disbelief enough to be able to enjoy
movies featuring giant ants, giant spiders, giant apes, and the like, but
there was no way I was going to feel at all spooked by the monsters this
film, 'Night of the Lepus', had to offer. I'm sorry, but giant bunny rabbits
just aren't menacing.
In the wake of this angora atrocity, and while waiting for Paul to show up,
my wanderings took me upstairs ('CRACK'. "Arrgh, shit!") to the fandom room
where a variety of fanzines were on sale. I sniffed dismissively at tatty
mimeographed items with names like WRINKLED SHREW, EGG, and CHECKPOINT and
decided to invest 25p in an obviously superior lithographed production put
out by members of the Oxford University Science Fiction Group and featuring
fiction by people with names like Langford and Smith. And this is why the
first fanzine I ever owned a copy of was SFINX. Ah, missed opportunities!
Later that morning, Paul and I voted for next year's Eastercon to be held in
Manchester. We made our decision after much agonising and careful weighing up
of alternatives and ultimately based it on two things: 1) Manchester was
Paul's home town, and 2) there was no other bid.
The best item of the afternoon session was 'Time Travellers Among Us', one of
Bob Shaw's celebrated Serious Scientific Talks. This was a delight, with Bob
delivering his 'thesis' with an expressionless deadpan that could have put
many a professional comedian to shame, its internal logic rendering the jokes
even more hilarious. The audience loved it, most getting into the spirit of
the thing in the Q and A session afterwards where Bob demonstrated just how
fast he can think on his feet.
"Mr Shaw," asked one questioner, "does drinking aid time travel?"
"Yes," he replied, "if you drink a bottle of Scotch, the next thing you
know it's the following morning."
That evening, not being able to afford the banquet, Paul and I ate at
Wimpey's before returning to the hotel and settling into the deep,
comfortable armchairs in the first floor bar. We took this opportunity to
read stories the other had written, and as I read his I couldn't resist
glancing over frequently in an effort to see how he was enjoying my tales.
"So what did you think?" I asked when he finished reading.
"This is great stuff!" he lied. I think he'd just read the Adam and Eve
When the banquet had finished, we and the other paupers were allowed into the
Fairfax Suite for the awards and presentations ceremony. Toastmaster Peter
Weston, whose name I recognised from his articles in SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY
(which I read cover-to-cover every month), thanked the committee and the
Guest of Honour, Harry Harrison; the committee thanked Peter Weston, Harry
Harrison, and each other; then Harrison concluded by barking and growling his
thanks to Peter Weston, the individual committee members, other guests, hotel
catering staff, his parents, his chair, the table, his drink, his knife and
The final event of the evening was the dance, and oh the women, the women -
where the hell were the women?! Men outnumbered women at SEACON by five to
one (I counted the registrations in the programme book) and those that were
there all seemed to be with boyfriends or husbands. As it happens I enjoy
dancing enough that I'm prepared to dance alone if I have to, so I did. Music
for the dance was provided by the Burlington's, a band led by committee
member Graham Charnock who surveyed his audience with the cool distain of one
who has edited an issue of NEW WORLDS and who knows he'll shortly be
appearing on a record album with Michael Moorcock. This would be deleted with
indecent swiftness. Seeing that he was taking requests I asked for 'Bye Bye
Baby'. Charnock recoiled in horror which, him being so cool, translated as
And that was more or less it. The night wore on and I wore out, but I can't
say that I found out what it was all about. Still, as I left for home the
next morning, the hotel having bid me farewell in its own special way
('CRACK'. "Arrgh, shit!"), I was filled the wondrousness of what I'd just
experienced (nothing quite compares with your first con) and suffused with
love for my fellow man. Just how suffused I was you'll appreciate when I tell
you that I even managed to smile tolerantly when the guy sitting next to me
on the train back to Cardiff turned his radio on. Even 'Bye, Bye, Baby'
couldn't spoil my mood.
Our Malcolm has always been expert at the basic SF editor's trick of wearing
outrageously stupid things with nonchalant _gravitas_. It's something you
learn at Famous Editors' School.
[so, really, "Rob Hansen writes:"]
> The De Vere hotel was a shocking place. Literally. A modernish hotel with
> well- appointed rooms, the De Vere had the worst static electricity problem
> I've ever encountered. Walking just a few feet along its carpeted corridors
> built up enough charge to cause an audible 'CRACK' as you discharged it on
> the next metal surface or person you touched. The brass handrails on the
> stairs were a particular favourite. 'Bye, Bye, Baby' may have been at number
> one, but heard far more often in the De Vere that weekend was the catchy:
> 'CRACK'. "Arrgh, shit!"
Tullio and Amy Proni-- proprietors of Isher Artifacts in Kalamazoo,
Michigan, USA-- may have something that will help in this situation.
Among the rayguns and annoyatrons on their huckster table, you will
find a little gadget that senses another fan's electric field. An LED
glows more brightly if the field is stronger. I suppose that
technically this would be called an electroscope.
Along the same lines, yet strangely different, Fermilab's Todd Johnson
once took the guts of a Benevolent Ion Generator and built a small
portable gadget that allowed him to charge his body up to thousands of
volts. Wearing this, he could command styrofoam cups to move and
"stick balloons and small pieces of paper to the ceiling With No
Embarrassing Tummy-Rubs." Also, of course, it would deliver a shock
to anybody who touched the wearer's skin, which was usually a
surprise. Todd gave it to Mike Jittlov, who hates to be touched.
O~~* /_) ' / / /_/ ' , , ' ,_ _ \|/
- ~ -~~~~~~~~~~~/_) / / / / / / (_) (_) / / / _\~~~~~~~~~~~zap!
/ \ (_) (_) / | \
| | Bill Higgins Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
\ / Bitnet: HIG...@FNAL.BITNET
- - Internet: HIG...@FNAL.FNAL.GOV
~ SPAN/Hepnet: 43009::HIGGINS
> ROB HANSEN HERE:
> The final event of the day, at 10.15pm, was the Fancy Dress Parade. Back then
> this wasn't the slick masquerade dominated by dedicated costumers it's since
> become but more of an excuse for a bit of fun. Some entrants portrayed
> characters from novels (such as the blue-skinned guy who, despite obvious
> efforts to wash the stuff off, remained blue for the rest of the con -
> that'll teach him to use emulsion)
It was blue theatrical pancake, and yes it did come off eventually.
Can you remember the hotel furniture? Others tell me that the the
hotel rooms had tangerine velour covered chairs. I seem to remember my
room having chairs in a sort of tangerine/sky-blue camouflage pattern.
I.T and Management Development Trainer to the Cognoscenti
(In search of Cognoscenti.)
The Star Trek club (and the August Party, we're doing our
20th anniversary this summer) only happened because I
couldn't find the SF club. The day after I posted flyers
announcing the first ST club meeting, I found the SF club.
We ended up being on panels at each others cons, sharing
an office on the 3rd floor of the student union, and
otherwise getting along well for many years.
: It was 28 March 1975, Good Friday; the Vietnam War was rushing to an end,
: Harold Wilson was Prime Minister, and Margaret Thatcher had just been elected
: leader of the opposition Conservative party. No-one expected her to amount to
: anything. It was an era of long hair and flared trousers, of glam rock and
: Kung Fu films. It was a time so long ago that most people thought Meryl
: Streep was a throat infection, and so far, far away that Britain's hottest
: pop group was the Bay City Rollers.
[splendid stuff deleted]
Now, here's a chance for a splendid event this August: a 20th Anniversary
Come-As-A-Bay-City-Roller party at Intersection, in the _home city_ of
that great beat combo! Bay City Roller filk! Bay City Roller fanzines!
Tartan mimeograph technique workshops!
Steve.B...@Bristol.ac.uk ! Room 4.9, Department of Mathematics,
-------------------------------! University of Bristol,
Web page coming Real Soon Now. ! City and County of Bristol, United Kingdom,
Meanwhile, here is some music. ! BS8 1TW. Tel: 0117 928 7990.
>I was reading *SFR* and *Outworlds*, loccing occasionally, and
>wondering if I'd ever get up the courage to do a zine of my own.
Ah. I was reading Leroy Kettle's fabulously funny TRUE RAT and wondering
if I'd ever get up the courage to produce my own humorous fanzine.
Next year, when we're all talking about 1976, I will struggle to refrain
from telling you about the first issue and my subsequent years of
Ellison-like efforts to steal and hide every copy.
(Then I realized that all I had to do was kidnap Kettle and chain him in
the cellar to do it for me. That's why you don't see fanzines from him
these days. Though I do rent him out to John Brosnan to write the
disgusting bits of Brosnan's horror novels.)