Chuck Crayne Dies Suddenly

Chuck Crayne, a pivotal figure in the history of science fiction conrunning, passed away on February 16, his 71st birthday. Dian Crayne told the Trufen list that Chuck’s CAT scan on Friday revealed his persistent back pain to be a symptom of spinal cancer. He was admitted to the hospital, then unfortunately died of cardiac problems while being transferred to intensive care.

Chuck was most active in fandom during the Sixties and Seventies. A LASFS member, he edited many issues of its newzine De Profundis.

When a Bay Area bid won the rights to host the 1968 Worldcon and promptly merged it with the Westercon they’d already been voted, vacating the July 4th weekend, Chuck Crayne came up with the idea for a substitute LA-area event to fill the date – F-UNCon – and a group to run it, Future Unbounded, which included himself and Bruce Pelz, Dian and others. As Rich Lynch explains, the site, the Statler Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, had a level of luxury that fans were not used to in convention hotels, and Crayne wrote in the program book that “The F-UNcon is an attempt to show that — when properly planned — the larger a convention, the better the convention.” The group also rebounded and officially won the right to a Westercon for 1969.

Crayne and Pelz anticipated and encouraged the explosive growth of conventions that marked the Seventies. They helped found (along with others) the Bouchercon for mystery fans in 1970. They bid for and co-chaired the 1972 Worldcon. L.A.con I was the largest to that time, though that record was quickly eclipsed as a growing fandom propelled both of the next two Worldcons, TorCon II and DisCon II to greater attendance and new records of their own.

Crayne played a leading role in LA Worldcon bids for 1975 and 1981. Although both lost, he leveraged the 1975 bid into a successful run for the rights to host the very first North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).

While Chuck and I interacted only a few times over the years, his LoC on the first issue of File 770 in 1978 made some important comments that grounded me, and showed me what standard people had a right to expect from a newzine (and which I wasn’t meeting quite yet!) I’ll always remember him for that advice.