Hugo Voting: Let’s Look at the Record Yet Again

By Jo Van Ekeren:

I’ve spent the last couple of years exhuming statistics and ephemera about the Hugo Awards from various sources, including old Usenet posts on Google Groups, old fanzines, archived con websites, and various historical documents which have been scanned and made available online (and I give my thanks to those of you who have been making those archiving efforts, especially Joe Siclari, Edie Stern, Mark Olson, and Bill Burns).

I’ve managed to resurrect full or partial statistics for around 23 additional years beyond what was posted at A few years have already been posted there, and I will be gradually rolling out the rest of them over the next few months as I get them formatted into readable documents.

This post is an expanded and updated version of earlier statistical analyses by George Flynn:
Hugo Voting: Let’s Look at the Record by George Flynn [1988]
Hugo Voting: Let’s Look at the Record (Again) by George Flynn [1999]

and of an update by Jed Hartman which pulled in some additional years and electronic vs. paper voting numbers:
Hugo stats: numbers of nominating ballots by Jed Hartman [2018]

I’ve updated it with Site Selection ballot numbers, Advance Membership numbers, and Hugo participation percentages for 2000-2019, plus Retro Hugo data, as well as showing the difference between the number of categories which were on the nominating ballot versus the number of categories which had sufficient participation to be on the final voting ballot.

I’ve got source citations for all of the numbers included here. A lot of the information came from documents on The Hugo Awards, Fancyclopedia 3, FANAC, eFanzines, the SMOFS Long List, old Usenet posts on Google Groups, and the Wayback Machine. If you have questions about where one of the numbers came from, you can message me here.

You are welcome to link to the full Google document — and certainly can make a backup of it if you wish — but please be aware that I expect it to continue to change as more bits of information become available.

Please do report to me any errors or omissions you might notice, either in the comments on this post, or by submitting a message here.

What does the most recent data about Hugo nominators and voters tell us?

  1. Tracking of the electronic vs. paper nominations and votes, at the turn of the century, was helpful in evaluating the amount of electronic uptake by Hugo voters. That hit 99% in 2011, and has remained there ever since. Now this comparison tracking is chiefly of interest in noting how many remaining members are either unable or unwilling to nominate and vote electronically.
  2. From 1989 through 2007, participation in the final ballot was consistently under 20% of the Advance membership (those eligible to participate in voting). In 2008, both overall membership numbers and Hugo participation began to rise steadily. It is likely that common acceptance and the ease of the ability to nominate and vote electronically contributed significantly to this. In addition, 2008 was the first year of the annual Hugo Voter Packet – containing finalist works which were not otherwise available for free – and this has also likely contributed to the rise of member numbers and of Hugo participation among members.
  3. The ratio of Supporting to Attending members has also steadily risen in the last 10 years, and while some of this can be attributed to the Puppy campaigns of 2015-2016 as well as to fans from the U.S. being unable to attend overseas Worldcons in London and Helsinki, it seems clear that access to a large number of free works in the Hugo Voter Packet is also a contributing factor. Percentage of eligible advance member participation in the Hugo Awards is now at an all-time high, at 40% to 50% of the eligible membership.
  4. Site Selection, which has remained a mail-in or on-site endeavour, has seen somewhat of a decline in participation in the last 10 years. This is likely due to having only one bid site in many of those years, but possibly also somewhat due to people who previously voted for both Hugos and Site Selection by mail in the past now only voting for the Hugos online. This is not likely to change unless and until it becomes common for bidcoms to be willing to have electronic voting for Site Selection.

Hugo Voting: Let's Look At The Record Again (1971-1999), by George Flynn




# of


# of


197129 - Noreascon IBoston934373291,60045.8%
197230 - L.A.Con ILos Angeles927055092561,50036.7%
197331 - Torcon IIToronto, Canada11350708113752,20032.2%
197432 - Discon IIWashington DC12?930126452,60035.8%
O197533 - Aussiecon OneMelbourne, Australia12267600125281,88031.9%
197634 - MidAmeriConKansas City124861,595129933,60044.3%
197735 - SunConMiami Beach12500800128842,80028.6%
197836 - IguanaCon IIPhoenix135401,246131,1544,20029.7%
O197937 - Seacon '79Brighton, UK134671,160139204,12628.1%
198038 - Noreascon TwoBoston135631,788131,5495,44732.8%
198139 - Denvention TwoDenver124541,247121,6804,52927.5%
198240 - Chicon IVChicago126481,071121,1195,00021.4%
198341 - ConStellationBaltimore126601,322127295,50024.0%
198442 - L.A.con IILos Angeles135131,467131,3686,74021.8%
O198543 - Aussiecon TwoMelbourne, Australia13222443135272,19920.1%
198644 - ConFederationAtlanta135681,267131,863 (’88)
1,276 (’89)
O198745 - Conspiracy '87Brighton, UK13567990131,3734,95320.0%
198846 - Nolacon IINew Orleans144181,178141,4554,72125.0%
198947 - Noreascon 3Boston13539980131,6366,10016.1%
O199048 - ConFictionThe Hague, Netherlands14291486141,0883,41814.2%
199149 - Chicon VChicago133521,048132,0865,12620.4%
199250 - MagiConOrlando14498902142,5095,29717.0%
199351 - ConFranciscoSan Francisco15397841141,2825,83414.4%
199452 - ConAdianWinnipeg, Canada14649491141,4394,38811.2%
O199553 - IntersectionGlasgow, Scotland14477744141,5544,90015.2%
199654 - L.A.con IIILos Angeles14442939141,0646,00015.7%
199755 - LoneStarCon 2San Antonio13429687131,4674,40015.6%
199856 - BucConeerBaltimore13471769132,1685,13115.0%
O199957 - Aussiecon ThreeMelbourne, Australia13425438138202,42518.1%

Hugo Voting: Let's Look At The Record Yet Again (2000-2020),
by Jed Hartman and Jo Van Ekeren



# of
Valid Nominating Ballots
Valid Final Ballots
# of
58 - Chicon 2000Chicago1340713031.9%1,07147544.4%131,6985,26220.4%
200159 - Millennium PhilconPhiladelphia1349517836.0%1,05028226.9%132,0945,01320.9%
60 - ConJoséSan José1462637159.3%92469775.4%141,0344,42220.9%
61 - Torcon 3Toronto, Canada1473877647861.6%141,4814,20418.5%
200462 - Noreascon 4Boston1456736664.6%1,093141,6865,61319.5%
O200563 - InteractionGlasgow, Scotland1554643679.9%68455280.7%15[7]4,16916.4%
200664 - L.A.con IVLos Angeles1553343481.4%71160084.4%141,5614,12817.2%
65 - Nippon2007Yokohama, Japan1540934083.1%589159024,69112.6%
200866 - Denvention 3Denver15483895158264,06222.0%
200967 - AnticipationMontréal, Canada167991,0741,04096.8%167633,81228.2%
O201068 - Aussiecon 4Melbourne, Australia168641,094165262,89837.8%
201169 - RenovationReno161,00699298.6%2,1002,08699.3%167604,68844.8%
201270 - Chicon 7Chicago171,1011,922179325,21836.8%
201371 - LoneStarCon 3San Antonio171,343132999.0%1,848171,3484,46841.4%
O201472 - Loncon 3London, UK171,923188998.2%3,5873,57199.6%177788,58041.8%
201573 - SasquanSpokane172,122211999.9%5,9505,91499.4%172,62510,32157.6%
201674 - MidAmeriCon IIKansas City174,032401599.6%3,130171,3216,17450.7%
O201775 - Worldcon 75Helsinki, Finland182,464245899.8%3,3193,31599.9%181,2277,67243.3%
201876 - Worldcon 76San José191,813179599.0%2,8282,81099.4%197266,39344.2%
O201977 - Dublin 2019Dublin, Ireland201,800179799.8%3,0973,08999.7%208806,000?51.6%
O202078 - CoNZealandWellington, New Zealand191,584

Hugo Voting: Let's Look At The Record for the Retro Hugos



# of
Valid Nominating Ballots
Valid Final Ballots
# of
1996194654 - L.A.con IIILos Angeles13111---605---10
2001195159 - Millennium PhilconPhiladelphia121304836.9%86215718.2%10
2004195462 - Noreascon 4Boston131319673.3%84110
2014193972 - Loncon 3London, UK1623322697.0%1,3071,29599.1%10
2016194174 - MidAmeriCon IIKansas City1648147598.8%86911
2018194376 - Worldcon 76San José1720419294.1%70368897.9%9
2019194477 - Dublin 2019Dublin, Ireland1821721498.6%83482699.0%11
2020194578 - CoNZealandWellington, New Zealand18120

No.Footnote Explanation
[1]Number of categories includes the Hugo Awards, the Campbell Award, the Lodestar/YA Award, and any other special categories or awards announced that year. Discrepancies between total nominating categories and total voting categories are the result of categories with insufficient nominations being dropped from the final ballot.
[2]Chicon 2000 received 1,101 Hugo ballots, of which 475 were electronic ballots and 626 were paper ballots. 30 ballots were invalid, which left 1,071 valid ballots. It is unclear how many of the 30 invalid ballots were paper vs. electronic.
[3]ConJosé received 940 Hugo ballots. There were 697 were electronic ballots, 226 paper ballots, and 17 fax ballots. 16 ballots were invalid, which left 924 valid ballots. It is unclear how many of the 16 invalid ballots were paper vs. electronic vs. fax.
[4]Torcon 3 received 805 Hugo ballots, of which 478 were electronic ballots and 327 were paper ballots. 29 ballots were invalid, which left 776 valid ballots. It is unclear how many of the 29 invalid ballots were paper vs. electronic.
[5]The number of final Hugo ballots for Nippon 2007 is unknown. The quoted figure is the number of Novel ballots / 80%, which is the average percentage of final ballots cast for Novel during that stretch of years.
[6]Site Selection went from 2 years to 3 years in advance
[7]Site Selection went from 3 years to 2 years in advance

Best Fannish Cat

Let us return now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when Australian fans were called upon to vote for the “Best Fannish Cat” in the Ditmar Awards.

The earliest of these two forgotten episodes in SJW credential history occurred in 1991. The nominees were:

1991: Suncon, Brisbane

Best Fannish Cat

  • Apple Blossom, humans: Elaine Cochrane & Bruce Gillespie
  • Constantinople, human: Phil Wlodarczyk
  • Emma Peel, human: Terry Frost
  • Godzilla, humans: Ian Gunn & Karen Pender-Gunn
  • Honey, humans: Gerald [Smith] & Womble
  • Satan, human: Phil Wlodarczyk
  • Truffle, humans: Mark Loney & Michelle Muijsert
  • Typo, human: Roger Weddall

Typo won the award.

“It’s a long story,” recalls Bruce Gillespie. “The person who was Chair of the convention in Brisbane stuffed up many aspects of the convention. She was also part of a non-Melbourne group who believed that every aspect of the Ditmars was a cruel plot by Melbourne fans to keep all the Ditmars for themselves. So she allowed members of the convention to vote for the categories as well as the items in the categories. Irresistible bait to Melbourne fans in general — who ganged up to include Best Fannish Cat in the categories.”

Bruce Gillespie holding his cane toad Ditmars. Photo by Janice Gelb.

Marc Ortlieb says that wasn’t the only mischief fans got up to at Suncon. “That was the year that things got really silly. The NatCon was in Brisbane and, as a joke, Mark Loney created stuffed cane toads to present at the ceremony, with the real Ditmars to be presented at the closing ceremony. The cane toads were presented, but the real Ditmars weren’t ready.” The real ones would be distributed later at a Nova Mob club meeting.

Even though the award was a put-on, “Best Fannish Cat” made such an indelible impression on Australian fanhistory that the category would be revived in a future round of Ditmars.

As Gillespie sees it, “The list of nominees was regarded as so exemplary that the category was repeated (once) in a later set of the Ditmars. Apple Blossom was our nominee in 1991, and Flicker was our nominee in the much later Ditmars. Neither won, but the winners were very popular cats who had been met by many Melbourne fans. The general effect was to confirm the suspicion of Perth fans that Melbourne fans ‘did not take the Ditmars seriously’.”

Roger Weddall, owner of the winning cat, Typo, was elected the DUFF delegate in 1992. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with lymphoma shortly before leaving for North America, and ended up cutting short his trip after attending Magicon. He died a few months later. Thus it really was with affection that in 1993 someone drafted “A Modest Proposal for the [Swancon 18] Business Meeting” urging the creation of the “Roger Weddall Memorial Ditmar Controversy” and crediting him with some of these shenanigans:

It happens without warning, under no man’s control. None can predict where it will strike or how often. Yes it’s the Ditmar Controversy! It is time to take the guesswork out and have a permanent, official Ditmar Controversy each year and every year. Let us not leave it to chance and ConCom whim to arrange a proper and fitting controversy but instead let us make a firm and binding commitment for now and forever to have

Roger Weddall
Memorial Ditmar

In honour of Fandom’s best Ditmar Controversers, the man who brought you the best Fannish Cat, Cane Toads and other Ditmar atrocities,

Vote Yes!

At the 1993 Natcon Business meeting

However, there are Aussie fans for whom these memories of the ’91 Ditmars are not bathed in a golden glow. A 2005 Swancon XXX progress report solicited nominations for the Tin Duck Award (a genuine, annual award) with the warning – “Please do not invent new categories. (e.g. No Best Fannish Cat. We’ve heard it before, and it wasn’t funny the first time.)”

But with the passage of time nostalgia kicked in. Dudcon 3, the 2010 Australian National Science Fiction Convention revived Best Fannish Cat as a special committee award. The less facetious eligibility rules included requirements that nominees be “natural members of the species Felis Catus,” and be alive and resident in Australia at the time of the nomination.


Thoraiya Dyer unsuccessfully advanced her cat, Aerin, as a candidate by forcing it to be photographed in a Darth Vader costume.

Instead, these cats made the finals:

Tabby Allen

He is a big, lazy, neutered Tom, who just hangs around the house and sleeps on Genevieve’s bed. Sometimes he lays on the couch with us while we watch Doctor Who, but I cannot claim any other great fannish activity.

– James Allen

Felix Blackford

His real breeding name is Mystical Prince Felix, but he answers to Fifi. If fannish credentials other than his owning us are required, I will point out that the last line of the bio that Damien Broderick wrote for my story in the current Cosmos is: “She devotes her life to Mystical Prince Felix, a truly enormous Ragdoll cat.”
– Jenny Blackford

Peri Peri Canavan

Named for being orange with attitude, just like the sauce.
Is a firm believer in First Breakfast, Second Breakfast, Elevensies, Luncheon, Afternoon Tea, Dinner and Supper.
Knows that a library chair is a great place to nap.
Enjoys a good SF TV show/film/book because it means an available lap.
Can time travel, if the time involved is dinner time.
Stomach is larger on the inside than the outside.
– Trudi Canavan

Flicker Gillespie

Origin: derelict building in Collingwood.
Official description: black domestic shorthair.
Fannish credentials: How many fannish cats know their fathers? Flicker is father of Harry and Sampson Gillespie, as well as Miss Smith Endacott and Rascal Taylor. Now that his fathering days have been cut short, Flicker will sit on any visiting fannish lap that stays still for more than a few seconds.
– Elaine Cochrane

Pazuzu Sparks

Named for the Exorcist’s demon,
He meows ’cause he’s endlessly dreamin’
Of food and the flap
Which he knows is a trap
Set up by that bad Nemo”s schemin’

His nemesis one day will pay
But meanwhile he spends all the day
Knowing instead
That fridge, pantry and bed
Are all his, and that that way they’ll stay.

So he’ll crash at a run through the door,
Spread litter all over the floor,
Scrounge every crumb,
Bite my elbow and thumb
then curl up with Foyle and his war.
– Robert Hood

(The verse is by Robert Hood the Australian writer – not our Rev. Bob.)

Voters chose Peri Peri Canavan as the Best Fannish Cat of 2010.

Peri Peri Canacan, the Best Fannish Cat of 2010

Lars-Olov Strandberg (1929-2018)

Lars-Olov Strandberg. Photo by Magnus Westerlund.

By Karl-Johan Norén: Lars-Olov Strandberg passed away early morning on March 3, never having recovered from a stroke he suffered in January. He was a Guest of Honour at Interaction, the 2005 Worldcon in Glasgow.

Lars-Olov was born July 26, 1929. He was active from the start of Swedish science fiction fandom, present at the first Swedish science fiction con, Luncon in 1956, and on hand with his camera at nearly every Swedish sf con since. He did not make a big mark in this very early fandom, but he was present, and his strong organisational skills were instrumental in making the Scandinavian Society for Science Fiction (SFSF) a success after its founding in 1960. Many of its early meetings were held in his apartment at Folkskolegatan 22.

Lars-Olov held a secure, well-paying job at a major Swedish insurance company, and served as treasurer, secretary, or chairman at nearly every con held in Stockholm, often paying the economic deficit of the cons out of his own pocket. He also used this to make frequent travels to international cons. He visited most Eastercons for nearly forty years, and was a regular at Worldcons as well.

When Swedish fandom started to expand in the 1970s, Lars-Olov was there was well. He was one of the founding members of Forodrim, the Stockholm Tolkien society, where he took the alias of Théoden. He organised the first lasting Swedish fan foundation, the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation. He was a member of nearly every science fiction club in Sweden. Perhaps most importantly, he was part of the board of SFSF when they acquired the book club of the Swedish publisher Askild & Kärnekull, instantly making the society’s membership several times larger. The publishing activity and postal order store was the foundation of the Stockholm Science Fiction bookstore, nowadays with presence in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, and one of the largest science fiction bookstores in the world. It is unlikely that the Science Fiction bookstore could have grown beyond its humble beginnings without Lars-Olov.

I first met Lars-Olov sometime early 1999, when I first went to meet Swedish organised fandom. I think he served as the secretary of the book auction, and he was friendly and unassuming. He was never forward, and I never heard him raise his voice. He was so retiring that one could be excused to think he was not there. But he kept careful notes at every meeting, no matter how small, and he was always there, making Swedish fandom better by being friendly to everyone. A Swedish con or an SFSF meeting without Lars-Olov was something impossible.

FANAC Fan History Project Update 4

From the press release by Joe Siclari

“Keeping You Abreast of the Past”

November 20, 2017

Here are some highlights of the last 6 months:

Fan History Spotlight: Nearly everyone has heard of the Cosmic Circle and Claude Degler’s notorious fannish exploits in the ‘40s. If you haven’t, check the article at However, few people have ever read the original “writings” by him, or the reports that fans wrote about him. This last summer, we added a section with over 40 of his original pubs and the investigations by T. Bruce Yerke and Jack Speer. (See

Access: We’re trying some new ways to keep you aware of what we have online. Providing a bit more quick information has been a priority. On our Fanzine Index pages, you can now find the number of issues that we have online for that title. The last column will tell whether it is New, Complete or Updated. Another item is our Newszine Directory started last year. It’s a chronological list of all the Newszines (2,338) we have so far on If you want to know the S-F and fan news of any given period, you can navigate directly to that month. The first ones are from way back in 1938 and the last in 2011. Finally, at the end of this FANAC Update, we provide direct online links to everything mentioned.

FANAC Fan History Project website: We keep adding more Newszines as we acquire them. In the last month, thanks to Richard Lynch, we’ve added a run of Chat, the Tennessee newsletter edited by Nicki & Dick Lynch in the early 1990s. We have been continually uploading issues of Mike Glyer’s File 770. Mark Olson has scanned dozens of them.

Since our last Update, we have added about 250 other pubs with “news from the past”. These issues come from 19 different titles. We are doing a lot to fill-in the runs of different zines. Unfortunately there are some issues I just can’t find or don’t have. Here’s where I need your help. If you can provide missing issues (zines, scans, even photocopies), please let me know. In particular, right now, I’m looking for:

Jack Speer’s Stefnews #58 (1946)
Merv Binns’ Australian SF News #1, 2 (1978), 47 & 48 (c1989)
Taurasi’s Fantasy Times #3 (1941)

Laney: We’ve added multitudes of material. Francis Towner Laney’s notorious memoir, Ah! Sweet Idiocy!, is the most requested item and it’s now online, plus lots of material about FTL in FanHistorica.

FAPA: So is Dick Eney’s A Sense of FAPA, a huge sensational historical anthology of fannish writings (nearly 400 pages), with contributors such as James Blish, Redd Boggs, Charles Burbee, Joe Kennedy, F. Towner Laney, John Michel, P. Schuyler Miller, Milt Rothman, Bill Rotsler, Jack Speer, Harry Warner, Jr., Donald A. Wollheim, C. S. Youd (John Christopher) and many others from the Fantasy Amateur Press Association.

LASFS:  The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society has given us permission to put their primary publications Shangri-LA and both runs of Shangri-L’Affaires online. So far, we have added 20 issues from the 40s and 50s, with many more to come.

Mirage: We’ve also been given permission to put Jack Chalker’s Hugo nominated fanzine, Mirage online. Mirage was one of the best sercon zines of its time.

FANAC Fan History YouTube Channel: We have over 50 videos/audios online at YouTube! In the last week or so, we put up a Harry Harrison talk (1971 Eastercon) on “Stonehenge and Sex”. It includes a roaringly funny discourse on the introduction of sex into science fiction stories in the 60s, with anecdotes about well-loved authors and editors including Brian Aldiss, Mack Reynolds, Ted Carnell and George O. Smith.  He also talks about the filming of an editorial lunch with John Campbell, and just how much of the iconic fiction of the classic Astounding Magazine was intimately shaped by John.

We keep adding great recordings and subscribers get first notice. We’re over 180 subscribers and nearly 18,000 views, with 3 pieces having over 1000 views. It’s heartening that even for the less viewed videos, many get an intense response from their audience. As always, if you have audio or video material that we might use, please let us know.

FANCYCLOPEDIA 3: This is our encyclopedia (yours and ours), so we hope you are using it (and adding to it!). Going to a convention this year? Read about the “first conventions”. Want to know more about famous fans, infamous fans (see Degler above), convention facts, clubs in your area, or fanspeak (the jargon of our people)? It’s all there. But is your local club or convention listed? If not, contribute an article (or the beginnings of an article). It’s easy. Just follow the instructions on

Outreach for Fan History: FANAC has a Fan History Project Table at conventions whenever we can. In February, we will be at Boskone 55 in Boston and we will be at Worldcon 76 in San Jose.

FANAC was at Balticon earlier this year. The Fan Lounge Discussions we helped organize were well attended and great fun. You can listen to the Steven Brust/Geri Sullivan discussion on the raucous history of Minneapolis fandom on our YouTube channel (link below). Most recently, we were at Philcon this month. In addition to showcasing our history project websites, we have been showing selected fannish artifacts, including fanzines, original art, convention publications, and video and audio recordings from as far back as the 1940s.

When you next see our table, come say hello and help us preserve and promote our fan history. Take a sticker for your badge and/or your contributor ribbon. Bookmark and click on What’s New every week to find our most recent additions.

As we keep saying, this is a community effort and we can only say “Thanks” to those of you who have helped us make our Fan History websites successful over the years. We’re continually adding to our contributors list. We have 248 of you listed so far and adding more as we update our older files. If you DO want to let people know you are a contributor, ask for our “I Help Save Fan History” ribbon. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook –

We’ve added more: Photos, fanzines, and convention publications, video and audio recordings, and Fancyclopedia entries.  We provide information for fans, academic researchers, fan writers, and film documentaries. We’ve made some changes to the website to make it easier to use, with more to come.

Those who don’t know fan history may not be condemned to repeat it, but those that do know that Carl Brandon is not dead! Thanks for your interest our mutual fan history.

Regards…Joe Siclari

Lifetime Positive

First meeting at the original LASFS clubhouse (1973). Jack Harness stands at left, Harlan Ellison in the doorway. Elst Weinstein is seated. Photo by Stan Burns.

[First published in 2002.]

By Mike Glyer: Early in Ian Fleming’s novel Moonraker James Bond is driving at night and spots an ominous neon sign flashing the message HELL IS HERE over and over. He rounds a hillock and once the sign is in full view sees it’s only an advertisement that SUMMER SHELL IS HERE. But I’m sure the Friday night card players would have loved adorning the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society clubhouse with the neon sign James Bond thought he saw in the days when we were obsessed by a game called “Hell’s Bridge.”

Two regulars at the game were Jack Harness and Bruce Pelz, legendary fans who both passed away within the last year, Jack on July 13, 2001 and Bruce on May 9, 2002. Mourning the loss of two of the best-known fans of their generation is appropriate, yet so is joyfully remembering their great humor and colorful personalities. I spent many hours together with them in LASFS activities, often at the card tables. The best moments sounded like this:

MIKE FRANK: A man with a long suit.
JACK HARNESS: With a trap in the back.
BRUCE PELZ: I know what kind of opening to give you.
JACK HARNESS: But…but…but…
BRUCE PELZ: You assed for it.
MIKE GLYER: (scribbling furiously) Pun slower!

Hell’s Bridge, never actually called by anything but its first name, preoccupied about a dozen players every Friday evening. The game bears a faint resemblance to bridge in that there is a trick-taking and a trump suit (determined by a cut of the cards.) But every player makes a contract for the number of tricks he expects to take, and the total tricks bid may not equal the number of tricks available (it can be under or over.) Since the onus of that rule generally falls on the last person to bid, the dealer, people constantly refer to the “DDA” – dealer’s disadvantage.

Hell is a comparatively inexpensive game to lose: a bad night would set me back the equivalent of a burger and Coke. Yet playing Hell still inflicted all the intensity and madness of more prestigious games like poker. (At least, I never envisioned Bret Maverick saying, “My daddy always told me ‘Never gamble, stick to Hell’s Bridge.’”)

The legendary LASFS poker games went away in the mid-70s when the hosts of the old Thursday night gatherings gave up in exhaustion and the games weren’t allowed to move into the new clubhouse. Members believed even penny-ante gambling would surely lead to a police raid, whereas poker without betting is even duller than a bar without booze. On the other hand members did allow Hell to be played there because it was tracked with a scoresheet, not played with chips or cash, and not hostage to the potential nightmare of the club’s five-and-dime riverboat gamblers wallowing in their loose change when the LAPD kicked the door and charged in with the vice squad.

As Hell grew in popularity those of us who had an early start in the game profited greatly from the neos who came along and received an expensive education. But time was not on our side. In the good old days, Jack Harness finished cleaning out one table full of players (while the LASFS Board of Directors met in the front room), threw open the door, hollered, “Fresh fish!” and they came running to fill up the next game. All too soon, all the new players became competitive. It got very rugged for all but the best. Even Bruce Pelz and Jack Harness had runs of ill luck that were mercilessly exploited. That produced some mythic bursts of temper. Long has the story been told of the night Pelz, hosting a game at his apartment and doing badly, ripped the leg off his card table and chased the players into the night. Doubt it if you like. I can only testify that I never saw him rip a leg off a card table…

Other legends of the game included Marty Massoglia. He gained fame as “Captain Suicide” during a phase when he started jumping to conclusions about whether he would make his bid on a hand, and when it looked bad to him, he abandoned all pretense of making his bid in order to prevent others from making theirs. Conversely, Mike Shupp’s brief career at the Hell table earned him the nickname of “Robin Hood,” because he would junk his chances to make his own hand in order to sabotage a player he felt had bid too ambitiously.

JACK HARNESS: I don’t want to sit on the right hand of Captain Suicide.
BRUCE PELZ: Then sit on his other hand and we’ll both be out of trouble.

Those of us who frequented LASFS card games in the early 70’s saw that Bruce tracked his wins and losses in a pocket diary. While his memory was famous — thus his nickname, the Elephant – he was also a prolific list-maker and recordkeeper. With the advent of personal computers Bruce was soon keeping track of everyone’s wins and losses. Once accounts were settled for the night, Bruce would take the scoresheets home and enter the data. He assigned everyone a “handle” — real names were not used on the printouts. Years passed and we still expected the place to be raided by the vice squad at any moment.

The players with the cumulative best records were dubbed “The Hell-5 Society.” The top five scorers of the year got first crack at playing in the game held at the Nivens’ New Year’s Eve Party.

Players who were cumulatively in the black were referred to as “lifetime positive.” I think I was about $20 to the good when I stopped playing regularly after 15 years, so what was that, an average winning of slightly more than a buck a year? But as more newcomers came along and joined the minus column, a mystique grew up around anyone who had managed not to give all his money to Pelz and the other sharks.

If (in the parlance of comic collectors) Hell’s Bridge represented the Silver Age of LASFS cardplaying, its Golden Age had been the weekly poker sessions at the Nivens’ house in Brentwood. There was an endless parade of great fannish names through the game (I would like to have played poker against Dick Geis). Those poker games were, in fact, the reason I joined LASFS. Joe Minne lived upstairs in our dorm at USC and said he often went to club meetings and then went over to Larry Niven’s house to play poker.

The first time Joe took a couple of us with him, he turned his ancient Ford T-Bird off Sunset onto a dark side street whose mist-shrouded lamps must have inspired “Of A Foggy Night.” When we got into the house Larry Niven said hello and asked Minne, “Can you vouch for these two?” Insuring the integrity of the poker game was probably the least reason Niven asked for assurance: what mattered was the art collection. His home was like a year-round Worldcon art show, walls covered with huge framed Tim Kirk drawings and Wendy Pini original pastel paintings. The burglar alarm system would be no protection against light-fingered fans pretending to be poker players.

I kept going back and the welcome became warmer. After all, I had the one utterly endearing trait of losing quietly, though I could only afford to lose about $3 and then I was done for the evening. Once I accidentally left with a poker chip in my pocket and endured the embarrassment of calling Larry to confess because I needed to be able to get my dollar back next week. Joe Minne, on the other hand, answered each setback by opening his checkbook and saying, “Ahhhh!” I played at the cheap table, hosted by Fuzzy Pink Niven, and there was also a “blood” table where Larry presided over sharks like Jerry Pournelle, whose skill kept him from ever having to fill out the worn personal check he tossed in when he drew his poker chips to start the night.

A certain machismo compelled a few to play at the “blood” game who weren’t equal to it and they made losing their rent a routine, prompting Larry to conclude that “Some people win by winning, and some people win by losing.” There was a high level of pseudo-psychiatric analysis: if you screwed up at poker, your whole lifestyle was bound to be called into question. And for someone losing $200 within a few weeks, this was not unreasonable.

The Nivens set a generous sideboard for these games, which some visitors managed to abuse by melting cheese all over the toaster oven or helping themselves uninvited to the good brandy. The Nivens resorted to posting a dittoed “Rules of the House” which I regret not having kept. At last they moved out of Brentwood and the club relocated to the San Fernando Valley. The era of poker games breaking up at dawn came to an end – and descended into Hell.

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Monday at MagiCon (1992) Day Five

I’m guessing this is a SFPA member group photo. Top: Ned Brooks, Tom Feller, Guy H. Lillian III, Patrick Malloy Middle: Barbara Mott, Janice Gelb, Penny Frierson, Gary Louie, Naomi Fisher, Eve Ackerman, Howard Rosenblatt Bottom: Ruth Judkowitz

INTRODUCTION: Twenty-five years ago MagiCon was held in Orlando, Florida. A great con, and I thought it would be fun to reprint the report I ran in File 770. Here is the fifth of five daily installments.

The Worldcon was held in the Orange County Convention and Civic Center, The Peabody Hotel, and The Clarion Hotel.

ANOTHER MANIC MONDAY: Every day fans plodded through the humidity toward an oasis of air conditioning past two electro-mechanical signs displaying animated graphics of the MagiCon title, and the countdown to a shuttle launch. The rhythm of the pieces forming the display sounded vaguely familiar because the slow clatter beginning each cycle that rapidly accelerated until the shuttle had “lifted off” sounded a lot like the marching aliens in an Atari 2600 “Space Invaders” game.

Sign outside the convention center, with the Peabody Hotel in the background. Photo by Carol Porter.

The last morning of MagiCon I entered the convention center and saw, in the distance, Geri Sullivan carrying a fully-inflated brontosaurus over one shoulder toward the Fanzine Lounge.

Half curtained-off from huckster traffic by poles and drapes, the lounge boasted its own beer bar (shades of Brighton), a couple of couches and several circular banquet tables with chairs. All weekend long fanzine fans had kept an oasis of Corflu in the heart of MagiCon, hosting their own receptions, auctions and discussions.

Fan Lounge. Kurt Erichsen in rainbow outfit.

Here you could find Walt Willis, James White, Andy Hooper, Ted White, Arnie Katz, Timothy Lane and Vincent Clarke’s shirt. British fanzine fan Vincent Clarke couldn’t attend in person, but with Geri’s help there was a sense he was constantly engaged in the lounge’s most interesting activities. Geri Sullivan showed everyone the t-shirt imprinted with Vince’s color photo and asked them to autograph it. Vince even boasted his share of the omnipresent con ribbons. Andy Hooper asked about the kelly green ribbon. Geri beamed, “Vince shot a hole-in-one on the Willis golf course!”

Hooper turned to Walt Willis. “I know one under par is a birdie and two under is an eagle — what is it when you shoot three under par?” he asked. Said Willis, “An albatross.”

Geri Sullivan wearing the Vincent Clarke message shirt. Photo by Mark Olson. (My own signature is on the right-side sleeve…)

In another conversation Timothy Lane worked in a typical Fosfax conservative touch by answering someone’s question: “World SF is an organization of professional people who are really upset that the Soviet Union has gone away.”

MONDAY BUSINESS MEETING. Kevin Standlee reported the 1995 NASFiC Site-Selection Voting Results:  381 ballots were cast, and Atlanta won. (Write-ins were received for “Hold the election next year” and “Hawaii”.)

ATLANTA 152 172 184
I-95 IN ‘95 92 100 135
SUBTOTAL 377 365 319
TOTAL BALLOTS 381 381 381

EVEN MORE PROGRAM: At the end of “Rejection Slips and Other Downers”, Ginger Curry, John F. Moore and Laura Resnick listened as Del Stone, Jr. explained how naive he was when he submitted his first manuscript to a prozine. He got the manuscript back with a form letter. “It was rejected, but my reaction was, ‘Ben Bova’s autograph — wow!”

Evelyn Leeper upstaged the “Lost Art of the Newzine” panel by sitting in the front row wearing her “For all I know, I might have won a Hugo” button, satirizing the mixup at the Hugo Awards.

Richard Lynch, Laurie Mann, Mike Glyer and Timothy Lane discuss “The Lost Art of the Newzine.”. Photo by Carol Porter

A remarkable number of past and present Tor managing editors joined the panel for “Magical Practices of the Publizandi,” a tongue-in-cheek panel that disguised insights worthy of Margaret Mead by offering them in the language of a typical 1930’s travelogue. Survivors (of Tor and other houses) Jane Jewell, Beth Meacham, Teresa Nielsen-Hayden, Tappan King and moderator Sarah Goodman enjoyed themselves hugely. Tappan King droned mystically, “The pitch derives from the package, the package derives from the book…” When someone naively asked, “Is someone actually supposed to read the book?”, Tappan King doubletalked, “We’ve found that editors who have actually read the book cannot give us the hook.”

Tappan King in 1987.

Striving for needless clarity, Sarah Goodman asked panelists to illustrate the “hook” by devising one for Stranger in a Strange Land as if it were being published for the first time. Tappan King smirked that behind the “hook” was editors’ superstition that if you gathered together enough previously-sold objects then you can convince the sales force to hustle your project. So a “hook” for Stranger would come out: “THE WAR OF THE WORLDS MEETS THE NEW TESTAMENT.” Beth Meacham liked: “COUNTER-CULTURE MESSIAH FROM ANOTHER PLANET.” Someone added, “He came from another planet for love, sex and cannibalism.”

King said there are ritual sacrifices that must be made by the publizandi from time to time. “The managing editor is the most obvious person for that function,” he said. Teresa Nielsen Hayden said, “Being managing editor for Tor is like being drummer for Spinal Tap,” and sent the audience into a frenzy of laughter. She and Meacham remembered ritual humor objects handed down through a succession of Tor managing editors.

Teresa narrated the hilariously impossible demands made on managing editors, from the hallucinatory sales estimate forms required long before orders are ever solicited, to eleventh-hour production changes she supposed publishers must believe the “book fairies” will bring about. Just pausing for breath after the last remark, Teresa watched, horrified, as TOR’s publisher Tom Doherty and entourage passed the door, turned back and marched in. Doherty sat in fingernail-biting fascination as Teresa dissolved into giggles. Beth Meacham adroitly rescued the moment, opening her mouth about a completely different subject in a tone of voice as though she was responding to something Teresa had just said.

Someone from the program staff held up a sign at the back of the room that read, “5 Minutes” when it was almost time for the panel to end. Meacham corrected, “Usually, a single digit is spelled out.” Teresa added, “And minute should not be capitalized because it isn’t a sentence.” The staffer paused, then asked, “Y’all need any more water in here?”

MagiCon chair Joe Siclari. Photo by Mark Olson.

THE GRIPE SESSION — NOT! Joe Siclari doesn’t understand how gripe sessions are supposed to run: he is blessed. At the Worldcon gripe session they take the lid off emotions that have been stewing four or five days. You get Malcolm Edwards trying to explain how L. Ron Hubbard bought the pocket program. You see people calculating whether to gang-tackle Mike Phillips because it looks like in another split-second he’s going to charge John Guidry.

What you never see is a gripe session like MagiCon’s where seven out of the first ten comments are directing credit to people who worked different areas of the convention, and out of the other three, the worst gripe is about the tiny size of names on membership badges! People complimented everything from babysitting and childrens’ programming to art show security and handicapped access. It was a Worldcon chairman’s heaven on earth!

From the Gripe Session Joe dashed to Closing Ceremonies, which were reported for File 770 (and the daily zine) by Laurie Mann.


MagiCon’s chair Joe Siclari opened closing ceremonies by introducing Spider Robinson who quipped, “I’d like to thank the other MagiCon guests, Jack Chalker, Vincent Van Gogh and Walter Miller.”

Siclari briefly recapped MagiCon’s origin as a bid as in the ConFederation Program Book (1986). He thanks the bid’s founder, Becky Thomson, and all the division directors by name. He had the area heads rise en masse to applause by the attendees.

Events czar Steve Whitmore interrupted the proceedings to bring Vincent DiFate to the podium. Vincent grabbed Joe’s mike and told him to sit down to be awarded. “After all, a crew is only as good as its captain. Think of this as a testimonial (not a memorial, though I’m sure a few of you want him dead.”) Di Fate presented Joe with a white box, causing the standard “ticking” jokes in the audience. The box contained a commemorative MagiCon plaque with footsteps in it, and a Mickey Mouse “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” doll to fill the footsteps with. Joe was almost speechless, shocking many people in the audience.

Dave Kyle came up to the podium and received Joe’s thanks on behalf of First Fandom. Kyle said, “The dinosaurs lived for millions of years. Chairing a Worldcon is like a geologic period. We First Fandom dinosaurs leave hibernation long enough to attend Worldcon. We get rejuvenated at each Worldcon, but we can’t help but look around in wonder and ask… My ghod, what did we create?” (applause and laughter) “And I’m glad we did.”

MagiCon Publications. Jon Gustafson edited and designed the Program Book. I edited, and Dave Ratti designed the Progress Reports.

Joe announced it was time to close the time capsule. To commemorate the 50th Worldcon, MagiCon collected material for a time capsule, destined to be opened at the 100th Worldcon. Many, many items were put in, including:

  • Barrayar, this year’s Hugo-winning novel;
  • MagiCon souvenirs, pins, patches, and publications;
  • Worldcon bidding material, including Glasgow water bottles and a Scotch box, ConFrancisco kazoo, LA in ’84 key rings, Chicon VI tissues, and material from I-95-in-’95, Louisville, and Australia bids;
  • Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (edited for Noreascon 2 by Bruce Pelz);
  • Duct tape;
  • First Fandom card from Dave  Kyle;
  • Lots of fanzines, magazines, and buttons (including the “Clue,” “For All I Know I Might Have Won A Hugo,” and “None of the Above” buttons);
  • China Coast chopsticks;
  • Sci Fi Channel material;
  • Helicon flask;
  • Westercon sash;
  • Kate Bush CD;
  • Bow tie from Ben Yalow;
  • Super Hugo book;
  • Joe Siclari’s signature hat;
  • Hotel keys;
  • Charlie Seelig’s MagiCon badge;
  • Spider Robinson’s guitar pick;
  • Orlando Sentinel for September 7, 1992, which included a piece on MagiCon;
  • Many ribbon, including a “Dave Kyle Says I Can Sit Here” ribbon with Francis Ford Coppola’s signature;
  • Hugo pin and statue;
  • 7 for 77 badge (historical note: ’77 WOULD have been the first Orland Worldcon except hotel trouble forced the con to move to Miami);
  • Golf ball and golf club;
  • “Seth’s balls” (never did see that, but that’s what it SOUNDED like he said!!);
  • NASA material, including a picture of thee first space shuttle crew “Priority” envelope;
  • Glitz from the Costumer’s Guide;
  • Complete set of Slant (Walt Willis’ fanzine);
  • ConFrancisco gavel.

Adding material to the box went on for awhile and the audience grew restive, so Joe eventually locked the box, and, using a golf club as a gavel, declared MagiCon over.

He turned things over to Dave Clark, ConFrancisco chair, who immediately told the audience, “I feel fine, thank you.” [This was dark humor, referencing Clark having succeeded the late Terry Biffel as chair.]

Many members of the ConFrancisco committee entered in costume and with flags and marched around the hall to the strains of “ConFrancisco, Here We Come.” Dave then presented a slide show, part hard-sell tourist and part fannish, on San Francisco and the next Worldcon. The slide of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory garnered the most applause. The ConFrancisco committee then passed fannish fortune cookies through the audience.

As I was leaving, I noticed Program Ops Head Janice Gelb’s button, “And now I’m going to Disney World!” [A play on a typical commercial involving the latest Super Bowl quarterback.]


AFTER THE CLOSING CEREMONIES: Did you wonder what happened to the Time Capsule after they finished with it at Closing Ceremonies? Jay Kay Klein got an unintentional look behind-the-scenes.

Jay Kay loaned Joe Siclari some full-size photos of pros to exhibit at the con, which Joe intended to return after closing. But in the heat of the moment everything was swept into the big cooler — Jay Kay’s photos and Siclari’s convention notes included — and it was sealed off. Joe had to have his notes back and in reality the capsule hadn’t been sealed yet: Steve Whitmore was making a catalog of everything contributed. He dug down under the piles and retrieved the photos and notes.

SUMMARY: MagiCon delighted everyone. People will remember it as one of the better Worldcons for several reasons.

First, the committee set reasonable expectations. The committee never conducted themselves in a way that promised to deliver the world, or even the “best Worldcon ever.” What they promised was to work hard and make very creative and intelligent use of their finite resources, which they did.

Second, their modest and friendly approach attracted a lot of help from worldwide fandom. They realistically estimated what Florida convention fans could handle then recruited outside help. Free of the historic paranoia of committees who fear any outside helpers will take over, MagiCon executives knew the “outsiders” as friends of long-standing and were so welcoming that, like Tom Sawyer, they made people practically grateful for a chance to help paint their picket fence.

Some fans consider MagiCon a better con than Noreascon 3, but if Magicon delivered more it’s only because the 1992 committee stood on the shoulders of giants, foremost, the people who ran Noreascon 3. Priscilla Pollner [Olson] played a major role in organizing the program. The theme park Concourse advanced ideas originated in 1989. People from all areas of fandom were unusually generous in their contribution of ideas and energy.

Third, MagiCon’s leadership made very sophisticated use of fanhistory as a premise for exhibits and programs. Perhaps it seemed an obvious goal at the 50th Worldcon, but fans always want a con that reminds them of their historic identity and of all the emotions that bring our scattered tribe together on Labor Day. By filling that need with in dramatic opening ceremonies, a DiFate historic art retrospective, a time capsule, diverse fannish programming that balanced the “trade show” feel of so many pro panels, MagiCon left members well satisfied. No group left feeling taken for granted, from people who are still wistfully remembering the 1949 Cinvention to first-time Worldcon attendees hoping they’d at least find some Star Trek stuff in the Dealer’s Room.

The con’s pleasing personality could only have come from organizers who had looked into their own hearts for what people value in a Worldcon, then spared no effort to deliver it. …And by sending “thank-you” notes to the workers, department heads left them actually willing to think about doing it again!

This is’s photo caption: “Chairman Joe tries to make a putt before his beeper rings again. Actually, Joe has no memory of playing the golf course. See what a Worldcon does to the brain of its chairman.” Photo by Carol Porter.

Worldcon Wayback Machine Sunday at MagiCon (1992) Day Four

Site Selection voting tables at MagiCon.

INTRODUCTION. Twenty-five years ago MagiCon was held in Orlando, Florida. A great con, and I thought it would be fun to reprint the report I ran in File 770. Here is the fourth of five daily installments.

The Worldcon was held in the Orange County Convention and Civic Center, The Peabody Hotel, and The Clarion Hotel.

The official 1995 Site Selection results were made public at the Sunday Business Meeting.

GLASGOW’S SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION. Glasgow will host Intersection, the 1995 Worldcon, having outpolled Atlanta by seven percent out of a record-setting 2,544 valid ballots.

Intersection’s Guest of Honor will be Samuel R. Delany, and its Guest of Honour will be Gerry Anderson. Think about it. The committee intends to wait a year before announcing its fan guest. Venue for the con will be the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and the adjacent Moat House International Hotel, from August 24-28, 1995.

I-95 in ‘95 12
TOTAL 2,602

MagiCon avoided repeating last year’s night-long vote count by validating all ballots cast on site as they were turned in to the voting table. (Validation consisted of checking that the voter was a member of MagiCon and had paid the voting fee. Membership transfers were also checked to insure just one vote was cast per membership.)

Debate has broken out whether the record-high vote was actually a financial setback for Glasgow. Proponents may be referring to the extra hundreds of people who joined to vote for Atlanta and having automatically become supporting members must receive convention publications at added cost to the committee. It is expected most such voters will never convert to attending members, leaving it open to question how much of their $20 fees will have to be spent for mailing costs.

1995 NASFIC BIDS. Promptly following the announcement of Glasgow’s victory, the WSFS business meeting switched on its NASFiC selection machinery. The constitution calls for a North American Science Fiction Convention tobe held in years when the Worldcon is awarded overseas, and requires that the choice of site be made in a ridiculously short time, even less than allowed for the three Christmas ghosts to straighten out Ebeneezer Scrooge.

NASFiC site selection administrator Kevin Standlee set a 10 p.m. Sunday deadline for bids to be filed and waited til the last minute at a central location in the Convention Center for the I-95 in ’95 crew to complete its filing. Unlike the losing Atlanta/Don Cook Worldcon bid, the I-95 hoax Worldcon bid (“Roadkillcon”, Christopher O’Shea chair) wanted to enter the NASFiC race. Bids were also filed by an Atlanta/DragonCon committee (Ed Kramer, chair) and a New York City committee (Thom Anderson, chair). Under the rules, a bid is not adequate unless it provides a letter verifying it has facilities reserved for its proposed convention date and Standlee rejected the first I-95 filing on those grounds. According to Standlee, even a reservation for one room-night in a hotel on the proposed date would be “adequate” for filing purposes, but there aren’t many places equipped to reserve a hotel room three years in advance. Finally, at the stroke of 10 o’clock, running across the convention center floor with the same painful urgency as athletes in a slow-motion shot from Chariots of Fire, came the I-95 bidders. In hand was a one-night room reservation they had persuaded the night clerk at a DC beltway hotel to accept and fax to them.

NASFiC site selection voting was conducted on Monday. (To be continued….)

CALLING ALL PROS. The Asimov Memorial Panel, said Tony Lewis, featured Harlan Ellison calling from LA (and making discordant swipes at Andy Porter.) Robert Silverberg offered many warm reminiscences of Isaac. In fact, Lewis asked Silverberg, “Will you say nice things about me at my memorial?” Silverberg agreed, “Certainly, but don’t make it too soon. It’ll take a long time to think up nice things.”

A phone link also brought Arthur C. Clarke together in public conversation with his brother, Fred, who actually attended the con and displayed treasure that Arthur had retrieved from the floor of the Indian Ocean while diving. Two 10-minute phone calls to Sri Lanka were sandwiched around showing a 52-minute video of the Minehead Space Festival, held in the brothers’ birthplace to celebrate Arthur’s 75th birthday.

20th ANNIVERSARY RANQUET: Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of a popular Worldcon event not usually reported in Locus out of deference to the laws of libel: the Ranquet. First held at McDonalds by Elst Weinstein and seven other fans who couldn’t afford $8.00 for the 1972 Worldcon banquet, the Ranquet ironically has outlived traditional Worldcon banquet dinners and typically attracts 50-70 attendees. Spurned by the nearest McDonalds, which already had more tourist trade than it needed, Elst turned to a Sizzler two blocks from the convention center.

Sometime in the past 20 years, the Ranquet acquired a tradition of having pro guests of honor such as Vic Milan, Glen Cook, Steve Barnes, Lawrence Watt-Evans and George Alec Effinger. New York fans, who always turn out in force, and Watt-Evans, used GEnie to persuade Esther Friesner to be this year’s guest.

Esther Friesner seen in 1999 performing Cheeblemancy. (Just the kind of thing you’d expect from a former Ranquet guest of honor.) Photo by Keith Stokes.

Once presented by Elst Weinstein, Friesner began the ceremonies: “It is an honor to be introduced by your toastmaster. Toastmaster is like the Beastmaster, only crummier.” Mentioning her “Ask Aunt Esther” etiquette column for Pulphouse, she launched into a demonstration of Ranquet manners. Advising listeners how to lobby votes for the “Hogu” (a hoax award given at the Ranquet), she said the way to coerce people to vote, politely and correctly, was through bribery. “Always make sure the money is clean — you can always send it out to be laundered.” She paused, “Remember — blackmail is an unreliable method because some of the people might be pleased to have the details published!”

The mixup with the fanzine Hugo had already passed into legend by Sunday. Elst made an intentional mistake announcing I was the recipient of a souvenir certificate, then taking it back and “correctly” presenting it to Dick and Nicki Lynch. And sitting behind the Lynches was Darrell Schweitzer wearing this button: “For all I know, I might have won a Hugo.” [For the full story on the buttons, see Scott Edelman’s blog post.]

The Hogu Ranquet was held at a local Sizzler restaurant (almost makes you long for the bad old days when it was at McDonald’s) and featured Guest of Honor Esther Friesner. The results of the Hogu and Blackhole awards were printed in the hoax zine and a list follows.

[List taken from Perianne Lurie’s MagiCon report in The WSFA Journal. One look at these and I’ll be you can guess what was in the news in 1992.]

Hogu Awards:

  • The Deroach Award, for putridity in everyday life: Woody Allen
  • The Aristotle Award, for Grand Master Lifetime Achievement in Putridity: Stuart Hellinger
  • Best New Feud: Tag Team Action: Lunarians vs. Themselves
  • Singles Action: Dan Quayle vs. Noah Webster
  • Best Traumatic Presentation: Woody Allen in “Honey, I knocked up the Kid”
  • Best Religious Hoax: Popeye Goes Pro-Choice
  • Best Hoax Awards: The 1992 Fanzine Hugo
  • Best Typeface: Demi Moore ExtraBold
  • Best Professional Hoax: Yellow Ross of Texas
  • Fandom’s Biggest Turkey: Stuart Hellinger
  • Worst Fanzine Title: Republican Platform
  • Best Dead Writer: William Shatner
  • Best Hoax Convention: Eschercon
  • Best Pseudonym: Yog Sysop
  • Devo Award, to who has done the most harm to science fiction: Hudson Luce
  • Best Has-Been: Admiral Truly of NASA
  • Best Fan Hoax: Suicide Squid
  • Cuisinart Award, for worst editing: Highlander II
  • Special Grand Bastard Award: Pat Buchanan
  • Most Desired Gafiation, winner to get Mid Atlantic Fan Fund: Charles N. Brown
  • Free for All: “Saddam Hussein still has his job–do you?”
  • Special Bagelbash Award: Family values
  • Best New Disease: Chicago Tunnel Syndrome
  • Most Bizarre Hall Costume (Real or Imagined): Clarence Thomas as a judge
  • Best Alien Music Video: Michael Jackson, “Black or White”
  • Mixed Media: Ron & Stumpy
  • Closest Encounter of the Fourth Grade (My Stepdaughter is an Alien): Woody Allen and Soon Yi
  • Space Geek of the Year Award: Dan Quayle on Mars, Mr. Potatoe Head, VP Bird Brain, Der Kluckmeister (all of the above)
  • Traffic Jams, Jellies, & Preserves: NYC Train Sit Authority
  • Banger Award for most inappropriate con guest of honor: R. Lionel Fanthorpe

Black Hole Awards:

  • Standard Blackhole: Ross Perot, Charles Keating, George Bush, Leona Helmsley
  • Invisibility Award, for conspicuous absence: The Last Dangerous Visions
  • Incompetence Award: CA State Legislature
  • Publisher’s Award: Factsheet Five
  • Greed Award: NYC Parking Violations Bureau
  • Half-Assed Con Officiousness: (tie) Nolacontest and Stuart Hellinger’s Lunacon
  • Brown Hole Award for Outstanding Professionalism: unanimously awarded to Dan Quayle


Taral Wayne’s depiction of the Hogu Award from the 2015 revival.

MASQUERADE. I didn’t write up the Masquerade for my report. However, it was very successful.

Best in Show went to “Heroes”, which made such an impression that Camille Bacon-Smith devoted a page to it in her book Science Fiction Culture (2000).

Heroes: Duane Elms, David Chalker, Kathryn Elms.

Photos of costumers at MagiCon are hosted on

CONTINUED: Final installment tomorrow!

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Saturday at MagiCon (1992) Day Three

The 1992 Hugo Award. Each of the MagiCon Hugo awards was hand crafted by Phil Tortorici from a design by Phil and Joe Siclari. A certificate on the back of each award explained that the orange grating came from the actual NASA gantry used for the first successful launch of a U. S. orbiting satellite. Photo found at Aaron Pound’s “Dreaming About Other Worlds” website.

INTRODUCTION: Twenty-five years ago MagiCon was held in Orlando, Florida. A great con, and I thought it would be fun to reprint the report I ran in File 770. Here is the third of five daily installments.

The Worldcon was held in the Orange County Convention and Civic Center, The Peabody Hotel, and The Clarion Hotel.

PASSING IN THE HALLS: Saturday morning in the Green Room I noticed that Jay Kay Klein, of all people, had yet to pick up his “Past Worldcon Guest of Honor” ribbon. Yet he was the fellow who’d taken me aside at ConFiction to say he wanted Worldcons to start distributing them. Janice Gelb did give him a VIP ribbon. He already had a “lost kid” ribbon from a theme park, and said he hoped to get one for “Meritorious Eating At Worldcon Banquets.”

Highlighting “The Spanish Inquisition” panel of Worldcon bidders was an exchange between NESFAns. Tony Lewis said a 1998 Worldcon in Boston “is not going to be Noreascon 3 mark 2.” Ann Broomhead agreed, “Mark wouldn’t stand for it.” Deb Geisler said, “We won’t make the same mistakes.” Tony Lewis enthusiastically agreed, “We’ll make a whole new lot of mistakes, in new areas. We’re going to be the first people to make mistakes in these areas.”

Tony Lewis at MagiCon. Photo by Lenny Provenzano.

POCKET PROGRAM: Kathryn Daugherty snorted: “Did you actually carry around that mammoth publication in your pocket? Even my purse wasn’t big enough and somewhere in there is the map to the Lost Dutchman Mine and Judge Crater’s phone number.”

It was a great line, but doesn’t withstand close inspection. Nothing more ambitious than a barebones list of titles and times could encompass the Worldcon in anything that would fit in a pocket. Laurie Mann’s “pocket program” delivered program information, function area maps, lists of participants, a dealer’s room guide and film and video schedules in a lightweight zine that was both easier to carry than the Program Book and much more accurate than if it had been sent to press with the Program Book.

Pam Fremon, Laurie Mann, and Jim Mann in the MagiCon concourse. Photo by Mark Olson.

HUGO AWARDS CEREMONY: Eve Ackerman was in the Green Room distributing Hugo Award nominee ribbons and gold-colored nominee rocket pins to people waiting to march in at the start of the ceremony. Alexis Gilliland, in a peach-colored jacket, sat at a table presiding over regiments of plastic dinosaurs marching abreast on the tablecloth: he looked like a Devonian-era Doctor Doolittle.

George “Lan” Laskowski at Chicon V with his 1991 Best Fanzine Hugo.

Many other fans also looked like they could “talk to the animals.” Diana Harlan Stein arrived in a green jumpsuit wearing a blue cap with horns. George Laskowski kept his raccoon hat stashed nearby.

Gardner Dozois had graduated to a salt-and-pepper gray sports jacket, more befitting the leading magazine editor. Mark Owings wore a paisley tie, and said, “My ‘power tie’, I call it, but what it gives me power over I don’t know.”

The crowd was called to order so that artist Phil Tortorici could display the 1992 Hugos, gold-plated, on his beautifully-made bases. He’d hand-painted an astronomical scene on each black stone backdrop; the rockets rested on little squares of orange grating which came from the actual Pad 29 that was used to launch America’s first satellite. Tortorici’s bases are the finest since 1976, and only he and Tim Kirk have achieved the goal of making the awards real works of art.

Spider and Jeanne Robinson at MagiCon. Photo by Lenny Provenzano.

After the procession of the nominees, emcee Spider Robinson was on the job again in top hat, tails and with a walking stick. “They misunderstood: they thought I some kind of comedian, but that’s ‘Canadian’.”

No, they were right — he is a comedian. Robinson charmed the audience with two-liners like: “When cordless phones went on sale I bought one because it had one feature I liked — a button to turn off the ringer. It’s in my house somewhere…” In fact, that wasn’t the only thing in the house he needed help finding. “I need a VCR that when you switch it on the remote control announces where it is.”

Spider called for the audience to applaud the three GoH’s, “all of whom declined to give a speech.” Then the awards began.

Andre Norton presented the Gryphon Award for Beginning Women Writers to Eleanor Scabin, and gave honorable mention to Terry McGarry.

Andre Norton at the 1987 World Fantasy Con.

The Big Heart Award, presented annually by Forrest J Ackerman in memory of E. Everett Evans, has been assured of surviving its septuagenarian founders Ackerman and Walt Daugherty. Forry has arranged that in the future the Order of St. Fantony will co-sponsor the presentation. The 1992 award went to Samantha Jeude, a founder of Electrical Eggs (concerned about handicap access at cons) and one of the award’s rare women winners. Exasperatedly, Samantha said it’s the second award she’s won and again her husband, Don Cook, wasn’t there to see it. “He’s off doing Worldcon garbage,” she explained: chair of the Atlanta bid, Cook was counting site selection votes. [Photo below: Samanda Jeude in 2010, by Don Cook.]

Samanda Jeude

Dave Kyle presided over the First Fandom Hall of Fame Awards. If only by coincidence, in 1991 only a single First Fandom award was given at Chicon following controversy over the way multiple awards inject an unwanted 15-minute delay before the Hugos. But in 1992 the group slipped its bridle and announced three.

Kyle said the Hall of Fame awards are given to people for accomplishments in sf before the creation of the Hugos in 1953. There is a preference for giving them to the oldest deserving candidates in hopes of avoiding posthumous awards, and all but twice the group has succeeded.

Forry Ackerman presented a Hall of Fame Award to Art Widner. Jack Williamson announced one for Nelson Bond, who wasn’t present. Julie Schwartz announced an award for J. Harvey Haggard, which was accepted by Sam Moskowitz.

Forrest J Ackerman, Dave Kyle, and Michael Whelan, at a MagiCon post-Hugo party. Photo by Lenny Provenzano.

Then again, there was no hurry to start announcing Hugos anyway because on deck was a 15-minute retrospective slide show.

“50 Worldcons Remembered” was a brilliant image collage of Program Book covers, ads, photos and illustrations, Hugo trophies, winning Best Novel covers and other memorabilia presented in chronological order and paced by dramatic music. At the outset there was a trickle of applause for recurring motifs — Dave and Ruth Kyle’s clever ads in each Program Book — that built as more fans recognized cons they personally attended or helped run. It was an outstanding retrospective.

Now came the main awards. Stanley Schmidt kicked things off by giving the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer to Ted Chiang. The award was accepted by Eileen Gunn, who got a laugh claiming to be using a speech left over from the last time she accepted an award (for Howard Waldrop), which was: “Howard says — buy his books!”

The committee showed slides of the nominees’ names on the auditorium screen intended to be synchronized with Spider Robinson’s reading. But Spider appeared completely unrehearsed in this. After cycling through the Best Fanartist images twice while Robinson stood by obviously confused, Marty Gear as the “voice from above” had to explain the concept. It was an omen.

Brad Foster, Best Fanartist Hugo winner, noted it was the first time he had been present to receive one of his Hugos.

Dave Langford’s Best Fanwriter Hugo was accepted by Martin Hoare. He had done this before and knew when he called Dave in England with the news the appreciative response would be: “You bastard — I was fast asleep!”

[Dave Langford wrote me later that the way it really went down was: “He rang from a party in Florida to say, ‘Crackle crackle bleep British double belch fade click Hugo crackle crackle Glasgow whirr click can’t afford to talk to you any longer, Dave!’ Gosh wow.”]

Martin Hoare at MagiCon. Photo by Mark Olson.

The ceremonies derailed when Spider ripped open an envelope and read that Lan’s Lantern won the Best Fanzine Hugo. While Robinson was placing the trophy in George Laskowski’s hands, on the screen behind him flashed a slide that the winner was Mimosa, edited by Dick and Nicki Lynch. Beside me, Janice Gelb cringed just like at Raiders of the Lost Ark when I warned her the face-melting scene was coming. Laskowski briefly said, “Thank you,” and got offstage because he’d seen Mimosa on the award plaque, too.

As Joe Siclari and others excused themselves from the audience and headed backstage to investigate, several more Hugos were given. Locus won Best Semiprozine. Michael Whelan accepted the Best Professional Artist Hugo, confessing “With so many artists in the field doing so much excellent work I feel like a thief taking this award. Nevertheless I accept it.” Gardner Dozois received another Best Professional Editor Hugo.

Now, a shaken Spider Robinson revealed that Mimosa was the correct Hugo-winning fanzine and was joined by Laskowski to turn over the trophy to Dick and Nicki Lynch. The mistake was reminiscent of the year Asimov accidentally announced Gene Wolfe’s “Island of Dr. Death” had won the Nebula, disbelieving that No Award (the correct result) had finished first and naming instead the second item listed. The only remotely comparable mistake at any other Hugo ceremonies happened in 1985 when the slide operator (of course) flashed that John Varley’s short story won before the emcee even announced the nominees. Laskowski has won two Hugos in the past — and showed extreme grace in surrendering MagiCon’s Hugo to the Lynches.

Not that the comedy of errors was over. Completely in shock, Dick Lynch reached the stage alone and gazed at the shadowy auditorium doors hoping to see his wife, Nicki, who had made a quick trip out of the room after the fanzine Hugo had been given. “I wish my wife could be here. What do I do?” Dick seemed even more lost without his spouse than did Samantha Jeude, which permanently endeared him to women who commented about it later.

Another couple of Hugos were given. A representative of James Cameron’s company accepted the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo on behalf of Terminator 2. Michael Whelan claimed another Hugo in the Best Original Artwork category for the cover of Joan Vinge’s The Summer Queen.

“The Summer Queen” by Michael Whelan.

When Spider Robinson paused to find his place our claque of fanzine fans sitting in the VIP seats noticed Nicki Lynch was back. “Bring back Nicki Lynch!” shouted Moshe Feder, and Janice Gelb. Some stood up to yell. My God, even Andy Porter stood up and shouted through cupped hands, “Bring up Nicki Lynch!” It was like a Bud Greenspan documentary, like the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. Spider agreed, “That’s an excellent idea,” and both editors of Mimosa finally had their proper moment together at the Hugo Awards.

Rich Lynch, “Lan” Laskowski, and Nicki Lynch after the MagiCon Hugo ceremony. Photo by Lenny Provenzano.

When the Best Nonfiction Book Hugo went to The World of Charles Addams Spider tried to recover his humorous stride. “The award will be accepted by ‘Hand’….”  Yelled the audience, “That’s ‘Thing’!”

The main fiction Hugos came last. Best Short Story went to Geoffrey Landis’ “A Walk in the Sun.” Best Novelette was posthumously accepted for Isaac Asimov’s “Gold” by Janice Jeppson Asimov. Nancy Kress’ “Beggars in Spain” won Best Novella and Moshe Feder told us, “I voted for a winner — that never happens!”

Kress’ speech was both endearing and emotional. She recalled George R.R. Martin’s acceptance speech at the 1980 Hugos and how he described sitting in some even more ancient Hugo audience and receiving inspiration to strive to win his own. She admonished those in the back of the audience to listen to their heart, as she had, and “Go for it!” themselves.

Finally, Lois McMaster Bujold was rewarded once again with a Best Novel Hugo, for Barryar.

Nancy Kress and Lois McMaster Bujold at MagiCon. Photo by Lenny Provenzano.

People surged out of the awards looking for Laskowski, the Lynches and Spider, to console, congratulate or cross-examine. Robinson spent the evening wearing the erroneous card, listing Lan’s Lantern, around his neck on a string to prove it wasn’t his fault. Reportedly, calligraphers had specially prepared cards with every nominee’s name and title. They were told to do all of them, since the actual winners were a secret — and somehow the wrong card got included in the award-winner envelopes delivered to Spider.

Hugo Award winners. l-r: Toastmaster Spider Robinson (tux), Hugo Award designer Phil Tortorici, Charles N. Brown, Janet Jeppson for Isaac Asimov, Gardner Dozois, unidentified accepter for James Cameron, Michael Whelan, Martin Hoare for Langford, Nicki & Dick Lynch. Seated: Geoffrey Landis, Nancy Kress, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Eileen Gunn for Ted Chiang. Photo by Lenny Provenzano.

1992 Hugo Winners

Best Novel

  • Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold [Analog Jul,Aug,Sep,Oct 1991; Baen, 1991]

Best Novella

  • “Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress [Asimov’s Apr 1991; Axolotl, 1991]

Best Novelette

  • “Gold” by Isaac Asimov [Analog Sep 1991]

Best Short Story

  • “A Walk in the Sun” by Geoffrey A. Landis [Asimov’s Oct 1991]

Best Related Non-Fiction Book

  • The World of Charles Addams by Charles Addams [Knopf, 1991]

Best Dramatic Presentation

  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) [Carolco/Lightstorm/Pacific Western] Directed by James Cameron; Written by James Cameron and William Wisher, Jr.

Best Professional Editor

  • Gardner Dozois

Best Professional Artist

  • Michael Whelan

Best Original Art Work

  • Cover (The Summer Queen by Joan D. Vinge) by Michael Whelan

Best Semiprozine

  • Locus ed. by Charles N. Brown

Best Fanzine

  • Mimosa ed. by Dick Lynch and Nicki Lynch

Best Fan Writer

  • Dave Langford

Best Fan Artist

  • Brad W. Foster

CONTINUES: Worldcon Wayback Machine Sunday at MagiCon (1992) Day Four

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Friday at MagiCon (1992) Day Two

INTRODUCTION: Twenty-five years ago today MagiCon began in Orlando, Florida. A great con, and I thought it would be fun to reprint the report I ran in File 770. Here is the second of five daily installments.

The Worldcon was held in the Orange County Convention and Civic Center, The Peabody Hotel, and The Clarion Hotel.

PROGRAMMING: Interview With Vincent Di Fate: Questioned about his career by Joe Siclari and Roger Reed, of Illustration House (a coordinator of the Di Fate retrospective displayed in the Art Show), MagiCon guest of honor Vincent Di Fate continued to dazzle listeners with his historical knowledge, critical perception and capacity for explaining technical art matter to everyday fans in understandable terms.

“It was not my intention to go into art,” insisted Di Fate. “It seemed like every artist I ever talked to was angry about something and I didn’t want to spend my life in the visual arts.”

Attracted by the set design of Rocket Ship X-M, the Disney style and the astronomical art of Chesley Bonestell, Di Fate brought to him profession a great deal of intuitive knowledge about the look of spacecraft and equipment.

Part of MagiCon’s bookmark set, with artwork by Vincent DiFate

Di Fate answered his interviewers so candidly that their open-ended questions about doing art drew responses too sophisticated for listeners to fully comprehend without the translations he supplied. For example: A generic question about his reputation as a hardware artist launched Di Fate on a cryptic commentary: “I have found no market for the exploration of the viscous properties of paint.” Said Di Fate, art directors want the images more sharp and hard-edged, adding dismissively, “but that’s what photographs are for.” He has faith the current standard will ultimately be abandoned. “The artist needs to provide an alternative. There needs to be some room left for viewer participation, imagining what those shapes mean.”

Answering another question, Di Fate observed that artists absorb a sense of how spaceships capable of flying in atmosphere must look from the way Cadillacs are shaped and the design of thousands of other familiar artifacts. Yet if the spaceship never needs to fly in atmosphere it can look like anything. One John Schoenherr black-and-white spaceship in Analog was based on a washing machine agitator; the artist created false details simply by varying his brushstrokes.

Like the stereotyped artist, DiFate has never done a painting that satisfies him. “When paintings leave the studio I utterly loathe and despise them, and loath and despise myself.”

John Young

Keynote Luncheon: The guests of honor and astronaut John Young were presented at a Friday luncheon. Young’s speech, which was repeatedly interrupted by applause, was all the more remarkable given some of the obstacles he overcame. According to Becky Thomson, Delta canceled Young’s Thursday night flight. Mere hours before his talk he reached Orlando as co-pilot of a military plane. Since NASA had not relayed Magicon’s correspondence to Young he didn’t even know he was appearing at a science fiction convention before talking to Thomson. On the ride from the airport Young pored over the Program Book and pocket program — often uttering things like, “Oh, I’ve read that!” Thomson concluded, “By the time he was done he knew more about last year’s Hugo nominees than I do!”

An inspired track of programming recreated panels from the first Worldcon in 1939 — and even fielded one of the original panelists, Sam Moskowitz. Hal Clement gave a contemporary version of “Seeing the Universe”, Vincent DiFate paid tribute to Frank R. Paul’s 1939 talk “SF: The Spirit of Youth,” and after 53 years such panels as “The Changing SF” (this time with Gardner Dozois and Beth Meacham) and “The Fan World of the Future” have become traditional fare.

Rudy Sigmund and Sam Moskowitz at an ERBdom event in 1990.

Sam Moskowitz delivered two talks at the 1939 con, one of them “The Fan World of the Future.” In concept, he was to deliver his original talk again, followed by a discussion between himself, Bruce Pelz, Wilma Meier and myself. By the time SaM got to the con he still hadn’t found his original text: perhaps it had even been extemporaneous. So he began with his own look back at the way fans lived 50 years ago, a series of recollections that enthralled everyone.

In 1939 many fans still didn’t have phones — including the four who organized the first Worldcon. But in those days if Moskowitz mailed a Special Delivery letter by 6 p.m., the other party would get it by 11 if he wasn’t more than 50 miles away, at a cost of 3 cents. Progress isn’t always progress.

Moskowitz’ own Fantasy Times in 1940 was the first offset fanzine. Early fanzines were often reproduced by hektograph: a process in which a typewriter’s impressions on a purple master were transferred to a bed of hekto jelly, and a careful fan could make about 60 readable copies by pressing down one sheet at a time.

Most early fans didn’t own automobiles or travel by plane, but a legendary trek to the 1941 Denvention involved both forms of transportation. Art Widner owned a 20-year-old car that broke down every 15 miles. He and six friends from Boston and New York contributed $10 each for the round trip to Denver. Moskowitz winked, “Needless to say, there was a bit of thievery along the way.” One of the riders, John Bell, became so disgusted with Denvention he made the first recorded fan plane trip — home.

Returning to the topic Moskowitz said they planned to hold a 1939 World’s Fair Convention. The fair had agreed to give them meeting space, and declare it jointly “Science Fiction/Boy Scout Day.” But the fair expected fans to pay admission: three days at 75 cents, $2.25, was out of the question so “fair” was dropped from the name of the event.

They also shortened it to a one-day con because none of the fans could afford a hotel room. Except Jack Williamson put himself up for $1 a night at Sloane House — sort of like a YMHA — an expense befitting his status as a successful author!

During the first Worldcon, fans took the opportunity to visit Coney Island where this foto-op took place: Front: Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne Top: V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle Korshak, Ray Bradbury Coney Island, July 4, 1939)

A Talk With Walt Willis: Ted White conducted an interview with fan guest of honor, Walt Willis. It took a moment to pick up Walt’s lilting Irish accent in the room’s bad acoustics — but once anyone did he was likely to keep it! (Later in the weekend Art Widner explained the odd diction of his First Fandom award acceptance speech as the product of listening to James White for hours.)

The health and age of guests Vance and Willis contributed to each man’s decision to be interviewed rather than give a GoH speech. This was certainly a successful choice for Willis who sat surrounded by an audience of fanzine readers who were encyclopedically familiar with his work and offered questions more to express their appreciation than to learn anything new. For example, Moshe Feder recalled, “I embarrassed Walt at Tropicon by saying it was like meeting somebody out of the Bible.” Then Feder asked who Walt admired in fandom. Willis answered that he admired Charles Burbee for his versatility, and Bob Tucker for his faanfiction.

Ted White interviews Walt Willis. Photo by Carol Porter

THE JACK VANCE FESTIVAL OF ALL WORLDS: Answering a call for jugglers, mimes and “balloon zoologists”, fans instigated an indoor street fair Friday night in honor of GoH Jack Vance.

Martin Morse Wooster walked about in an orange and red balloon headdress looking like he’d survived a bungee jump into a vat of giant Life Savers. He called it his idea generator. “I go out and stand in the crowd and ideas come to me.” I agreed, “People passing by will shout them out at you!”

ALTERNATE AWARDS CEREMONY. Guy Gavriel Kay emceed a Friday event set aside for groups who wanted their award announced at a Worldcon. He said, “All these awards show the diversity and scope represented in the field of science fiction.”

Jerry Pournelle at MagiCon. Photo by Lenny Provenzano

The non-Hugo awards ceremony suffered a notorious glitch because Brad Lineaweaver sent Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle to the wrong building.  Together with Michael Flynn, they were to receive the Libertarian Futurist Society’s prize for Best Libertarian Novel of 1991: Fallen Angels. Making the mistake memorable for photographers, Niven and Pournelle later posed driving the award plaque through Lineaweaver’s skull at a 45-degree angle…

  • Electric SF Award (from ClariNet Communications): Geoffrey Landis, “A Walk in the Sun”
  • Prometheus Hall of Fame Award (from the Libertarian Futurist Society): Ira Levin, This Perfect Day
  • Prometheus Award for Best Libertarian SF Novel (from the Libertarian Futurist Society): Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn for Fallen Angels
  • Golden Duck Award for Best Children’s SF Book (from DucKon): Bruce Colville’s My Teacher Glows in the Dark
  • Golden Duck Award for Best Children’s SF Picture Book (from DucKon): Claire Ewart (illustrator), Time Train
  • Golden Duck Honorable Mention (from DucKon): Monica Hughes, Invitation to the Game
  • Seiun for Best Foreign Novel in Translation: Charles Sheffield, The McAndrew Chronicles
  • Seiun for Best Foreign Short Story or Novelette in Translation: John Varley, “Tango Charlie and Foxtrot Romeo”

Peabody Hotel. Photo by Carol Porter

PARTIES: The Peabody had been designated the ‘party hotel’ so that hosts would reserve their rooms in a central location. Lloyd and Yvonne Penney brought their 14-year-old niece Nicole with them to the con who discovered the heavy-metal group Metallica was staying on their floor at the Peabody when she met them in the lobby.

Over the weekend the Peabody boasted 10 to 20 open parties each night, plus the invitational receptions held by publishers. Crowds were rationed into the elevator cars a dozen at a time by monitors doing the second-most-thankless worldcon job (emcee of the meet-the-pros being first, of course…)

Counters at the “Slightly Higher In Canada” party said over 1000 fans came through in just one night. That made them better off than the Atlanta in ’95 bid party: I think when the thousand fans got there, they just stayed. Pressing through a solid wall of flesh to enter the party made me so claustrophobic I promptly shoved my way out again. According to Kurt Baty, Atlanta bidders kept a quiet VIP room in the rear of the suite and steered guests like Kelly Freas and Dave Kyle there to comfortable seats and the hospitality of a well-stocked bar.

New Orleans’ favorite son, Joey Grillot, visited the LA in ’96 party. Joey laughed about confusing the hell out of somebody at a party he’d just left when he told him, “I’m going to LA.” The other fan said, “But LA’s in California!” Joey said, “No, it’s up on the ninth floor.” His slower companion asked, “How’d they get it up there?” Joey smiled, “They got everybody out, then folded it up REAL SMALL.”

At another point Joey remembered John Guidry’s announcement to New Orleans fans they had won the 1988 bid. Guidry told them the rules required the committee to do certain things, like present the Hugos. “What’s that?” Joey asked, wondering if he’d heard right. Said Guidry, “That’s the science fiction award we give every year.” Joey was amazed. “John, how’re you gonna get 26 of those Hungarian automobiles in the grand ballroom of the Sheraton?”

CONTINUES: Worldcon Wayback Machine: Saturday at MagiCon (1992) Day Three

Worldcon Wayback Machine – Thursday at MagiCon (1992) Day One

The Orange County Civic and Convention Center sign announcing MagiCon. Behind is a view of the MagiCon headquarters hotel, The Peabody. Photo by Carol Porter

Introduction: Twenty-five years ago today Magicon began in Orlando, Florida. A great con, and I thought it would be fun to reprint the report I ran in File 770. Here is the first daily installment.

The Worldcon was held in the Orange County Convention and Civic Center, The Peabody Hotel, and The Clarion Hotel.

Report by Mike Glyer: A short monorail ride delivered airport passengers to Orlando’s airport baggage claim where they boarded the shuttle bus to International Drive, a trip they’d complete without seeing anything developers hadn’t tamed to resemble a well-manicured golf course. Hi-tech, planned, smooth, everything conspired to achieve an illusion that the airport terminal gate was the entrance to Disneyworld. – Look out! Who’s that in the road…??!

Filksingers Lee and Barry Gold and many others discovered it could be worth their lives jaywalking International Drive between the Peabody Hotel and the Orange County Civic and Convention Center. As my shuttle passed, they leaped from the curb, guitars in hand, and ran through a gap in traffic. Less adventuresome fen used a marked crosswalk and waited on the traffic light.

FACILITIES: Seen from the Clarion Hotel the Orange County Civic and Convention Center looked like a white riverboat. Three recessed cornices at the center of the building resembled a riverboat’s stepped-back decks, flanked on each side by blunt hallways ending in arched romanesque windows like paddlewheel housings.

Unlike convention facilities in wintry cities, many sections of the Orlando convention center were illuminated by natural daylight. The airy, open sense of natural space raised everyone’s spirit.

A night view of the Orange County Civic & Convention Center where most of the MagiCon activities took place. Photo by Carol Porter

REGISTRATION: Membership services opened Wednesday and followed the recent trend of registering nearly half the attending members (2,300) the night before the official opening. Final attendance figures were hard to come by. Interim reports in the daily newzine said by noon Saturday there were 5,423 members present, including 213 dailies and 395 full memberships bought at the door.

The con required members to show a photo ID to get their packets. And they were serious — they even carded Danny Siclari, the con chairman’s son. A good thing, too, because Danny went around the rest of the weekend offering Masquerade tickets and panicking people who failed to get the joke. Jay Kay Klein, who has an absolute phobia about being unrecognized, produced a photograph of himself standing with Robert Silverberg and Isaac Asimov and asked, “Will this do?”

The influx of at-the-door memberships put $40,000 in the coffers, allowing the committee to restore budget cuts made in July based on dire predictions. The Green Room ran out of coffee within two hours of opening, but new membership money allowed them to refill coffee as needed after Thursday.

That computerized registration software hadn’t been perfected was admitted to MagiCon officials only five days before the con. Vice-chair Becky Thomson dialed the Worldcon’s answer to 911, computer consultant Ross Pavlac, for an emergency assist. For devoting long hours on short notice to writing a program he was presented a “Magicon Hero” medal on closing day. The attention he got wearing the medal at Magicon was nothing compared to the fuss made over him by parking lot attendants and waiters at Disneyworld…

Crickett Fox wearing her MagiCon Hero medal.

Few such “saving throws” were needed by MagiCon because years in advance the central committee had done extensive recruitment of veteran convention runners and kept open communication with them with divisional APAs, e-mail and committee meetings at regionals. Money was at a premium but fans from all over the east coast (especially Boston) and England joined the core committee of Floridians and overcame resource problems with hard work.

OPENING CEREMONIES: Fans milling outside Hall A half an hour beyond the scheduled starting time for opening ceremonies because the dress rehearsal ran over were rewarded by the most excellent opening ceremonies of the 11 Worldcons I’ve attended.

The hall darkened, John Williams’ Olympic fanfare rang out, astronomical slides were projected and a voice in the rafters rumbled that we were at MagiCon, the 50th Worldcon.

“Thank you, Lord,” answered toastmaster Spider Robinson, stepping into a spotlight. His introduction dedicated the con to three “ghosts of honor”, Heinlein, Sturgeon and Asimov. He alluded to another great still with us, Clarke, while debunking the familiar Magicon motto: “Blending science and technology — as if there was a difference!”

Toastmaster Spider Robinson.

Blundering into Spider’s rap came wizard Richard Hill in a gaudy foil robe. Hill had little idea about science and even less about science fiction. Spider faded offstage and let the “voice from above” guide Hill through a retrospective of science fiction. Beginning with an avalanche of familiar definitions of the genre authored by Knight, Panshin and others, the voice mercifully changed tack and finished with a gentle, anecdotal review of the field’s history illustrated by images projected on three screens, or dramatized by other actors.

Like the audioanimatronic presidents down the road at Disneyworld, Verne and Wells appeared in period costume. From 50 feet away they looked an awful lot like Don Eastlake and Anthony Lewis (but weren’t.) Other live actors included First Fandomites in vintage sf costumes, such as 1939 Worldcon attendees Ackerman and Kyle; perhaps I should have recognized them all, but I didn’t.

Once the play had unfolded Spider Robinson returned to say, “I’d like to thank you all for coming — or however you’re reacting.” He extended his thanks to the father of modern science fiction, Hugo Gernsback, “who established a pay rate which is still in effect for many publications.”

Then convention chairman Joe Siclari brought out the honored guests, Jack and Norma Vance, Walt and Madeleine Willis, and Vincent Di Fate.

MAGICON CONCOURSE: A tradition, in fandom, is anything that’s been done once. When Noreascon 3 (1989) transformed its convention center’s wastelands into a thematic concourse of standing exhibits, lounges and bidder tables the fannish consciousness promptly grasped that was the way things ought to be done. Despite Boston’s successful experiment the next two Worldcons in Holland and Chicago returned to disjointed orthodoxy, leaving Magicon the first to recapture the spirit of Noreascon by creatively organizing the generic gray expanse of the OCCCC’s exhibit hall.

MagiCon Concourse. Photo by Mark Olson

Magicon enjoyed a great success by applying its people-power principle to overcome budget restraints. Just as Tom Sawyer dealt with whitewashing the picket fence, Magicon franchised its miniature golf holes to fan groups who paid for construction and staffed them because it looked like too much fun to miss!

Magicon ingeniously combined fan GoH Walt Willis’ imaginary world and favorite recreation into the thematic 10-hole Enchanted Duplicator Golf Course that snaked around the exhibit hall. Every hole was sponsored by a bidding committee, regional con or club who paid for materials and in many cases ran a table on site. The MCFI/Noreascon 4 bid took the hole shaped like the number 4. SCIFI/LA in ’96 had one in the shape of a question mark. The Glasgow in ’95 hole used scotch bottles to shape the playing area. Each hole featured a signboard quoting the passage from Enchanted Duplicator that served as its inspiration. The holes were constructed of astroturf with plywood curbs as boundaries. Homemade golf clubs (with wood blocks for heads), and plastic whiffle-golf-balls were stocked at every hole.

The entire miniature golf course was built inside the convention center. Each hole was themed to a scene from the Enchanted Duplicator, the most famous piece by Fan Guest of Honor Walter Willis (co-authored and illustrated by Bob Shaw.) Each hole was built by a different fannish club or worldcon bidder. The first hole was built and tested in the NESFA clubhouse, the last hole was built by the South Florida Science Fiction Society when they should have been preparing for Hurricane Andrew which hit South Florida the day after SFSFS constructed the Tower of Trufandom. Photo by Carol Porter

The miniature golf course proved more entertaining than its sponsors hoped, providing a great outlet for childrens’ energy and an entire new way for adults to think about normally drab convention centers. LA in ’96 gave away souvenir tokens to anyone making par (six strokes), and “Gummi Rats” to anyone who set or tied the hole record. A few of the younger kids became obsessed with the idea of breaking par. Michael Bienewicz-Velada (about 9 years old) and Len Wein (9 years old during Nixon’s “Checkers” speech) set a hole record at four. It fell to a young girl who played through a few dozen times and trimmed the record to three strokes.

Kids’ enthusiasm did little damage to the sturdy equipment provided by the Magicon Golf Hole Staff even when bludgeoning the ball through some of the trickier obstacles.

Hole #2, sponsored by the Fandom Association of Central Texas, which was bidding for San Antonio in ’97.

The Enchanted Duplicator Golf Course. Hole #3: The Circle of LASFSitude. As you can see the lasfsitude overtook the decoration of this hole. The most elaborate decoration was Bruce Pelz’ collection of MagiCon ribbons which you can see in progress hanging in the photo. LASFS member Drew Sanders is standing on the right.

The hole created by the Glasgow in ’95 Worldcon bid for the MagiCon golf course. Obstacles were added daily — the whiskey bottles emptied by their bid parties.

Bruce Pelz and Gary Louie spent Thursday morning hanging the History of the Worldcon exhibits, a collection of myriad  clippings, badges, pictures and membership badges. Nearby was a table full of irreplaceable Worldcon Program Books available to browse. This year there was an unprecdented theft from the exhibit: taken was an autographed copy of Robert Heinlein’s 1941 guest of honor speech. Pelz seemed resigned to the loss of the speech, handling it with black humor by pointing out although the text was signed by Heinlein and his spouse, Virginia had signed it, not Leslyn, Heinlein’s wife in 1941.

Bruce Pelz showing off the History of Worldcons exhibit. Photo by Mark Olson

A Glasgow bidder, in blue bid t-shirt and a plaid kilt, tried to have a conversation with Gary Louie. He was interrupted by Dutch fan Larry Van der Putte’s less-than-traditional greeting: walking up behind and lifting the fellow’s kilt to see what he was wearing underneath. The Scot replied to Larry’s greeting, “I’ll kill you later!”

Tim Illingworth and Marcia Kelly McCoy. Photo by Mark Olson.

A cyclopean eye against a far wall was the Sci-Fi Channel’s preview screen formed of 16 color television monitors alternately presenting mosaics of large single images or smaller redundant images.

The concourse was partitioned off from the rear half of the exhibit hall reserved for the Dealers’ Room and Art Show. At the Dealers’ Room entrance Dick Spelman sat behind a table, providing information, handling problems, and doling out the peach-colored ribbons which identified the sellers. On closer observation one discovered two versions of the same ribbon, one stamped “Dealer,” and the other, “Huckster.” Whichever title a seller used to refer to himself, Spelman was ready.

THE GENERALISSIMO OF BOLIVIA EFFECT: In fact, the worldcon tradition of creating a variety of colored ribbons achieved kaleidoscopic extremes at Magicon. Almost everyone enjoyed it as much as I did, but one of the exceptions was Rick Foss. At the end of a long evening of partying, Rick observed, “It’s been many years since I was at a con without seeing somebody wearing many ribbons to show how important he is passed out on a couch somewhere.”

Later at the gripe session someone claimed an unauthorized fan was giving directions during masquerade set-up and was obeyed because of his intimidating fruit salad of convention ribbons.

Most fans enjoy collecting all the badge paraphernalia they can. With a minimal investment of effort nearly anyone could get a “Jack Vance Festival of All Worlds”, “Site Selection Voter” or “Gopher” ribbon. Several clubs (NESFA, WSFA, BSFS) had their own powder-blue ribbons. The San Antonio in ’97 bid gave ribbons to presupporters. Boston in ’98 presupporters got an enamel pin. Hugo nominees received little gold-colored rocket pins (gold, because it was the 50th Worldcon). Badge stickers were handed out at most bid parties.

Magicon also had specialized ribbons identifying “Past Worldcon Guest of Honor” and “Past Worldcon Chairman”, Hugo nominees, program participants, art show exhibitors, concommittee and staff. There were also yellow ribbons for “Feather Dance Ceremony” (a Seth Breidbart hoax) and red ones stating “Dave Kyle Says You Can Sit Here.” For Worldcon exhibit collector, Bruce Pelz, they even had one captioned: “Set Completer.”

Bruce Pelz wearing his MagiCon ribbon collection.

CARPE PER DIEM: Thursday before the meet-the-pros, Elst Weinstein led two carloads of us to a Orlando shopping mall containing half a dozen upscale restaurants. We selected the Phoenikian, specializing in North African and Middle East cuisine.

Elst is a fascinating and dangerous dinner companion: since cooking exotic food is his passion he can advise and entertain about practically anything on the menu. But being Elst — once he has his dinner companions’ confidence he can’t resist a little put-on. The first time he got some fans in an Iranian restaurant he ultimately persuaded them into making finger sandwiches from the pita bread and all the condiments at the table: butter, chopped onion, chopped mint leaves and yogurt sauce. Now I believe if Elst went to dinner with six fans who had never been inside an American restaurant before, after he enthralled them with the legend of Worcestershire sauce and cellophane-wrapped crackers he’d probably instruct his slackjawed audience how to concoct an appetizer with the lemon-scented fingerbowl water…

RECURRING NIGHTMARES — MEET THE VIPS: Our dinner group arrived in the middle of Thursday night’s frantic “Meet the VIP’s” reception in the Clarion ballroom. As Richard Brandt said in next morning’s newzine, “In the dim, cavernous hall I was jotting down notes…pressed up against a far wall when a functionary with an Events gizmo came trotting over and demanded who had raised the lights. ‘You’re backing up against the dimmer switch,’ he told me. ‘Nobody touches the dimmer switch.’ ‘Heavens forfend,’ I replied, straining my eyes to see if I could recognize my date. I think she had stepped outside for some light.”

Crowds of party-dressed people were roaring to be heard above Mike Resnick, who was announcing Magicon notables over the public address while maybe three people in the room actually paid attention. As guests’ index cards were handed to him Resnick read their two-line bios; the three people paying attention looked around expecting the people Resnick was introducing to be spotlighted, or wave, or at least be in the room. No such luck. The meaningless recitation was painfully reminiscent of Shari Tepper’s depiction in Grass of believers’ names given a ritual utterance by a recorder at the universal church.

In “Xenogenesis” Harlan Ellison proved that from time to time fans do awful things to pros. What was done to Resnick belongs on the list. Sought after to emcee events like meet-the-pros, the Hugos (at NOLAcon) and the masquerade (at Chicon V), Mike Resnick has excellent stage presence, a wonderful announcing voice, good stories, and he’s easy for a committee to work with. How many more times Resnick will say “yes” is a question after he’s repeatedly had to salvage events from the mistakes of their organizers. I respect his loyalty, for no one’s patience is inexhaustible!

Indeed, the whole “meet-the-pros” concept proved unworkable long before I began attending Worldcons. Wrote Walt Willis in 1952 to those absent from Chicon I’s  opening ceremonies: “[T]he only spectacles they missed were those of Erle (‘I cannot see’) Korshak as he peered despairingly about the vast auditorium looking for familiar faces to introduce. The Convention Hall was actually a huge terraced restaurant, with tier after tier of small tables rising in semi-circles from a large stage. One result of this was that even those who were within a stone’s throw of the official programme tended to ignore it as if it were a sort of cabaret.”

The “Platonic ideal” meet-the-pros reception allows fans easy access to the writers they want to meet, gives newcomers the means to match pros’ names to their faces, while it provides the pros comfortable surroundings.

But Worldcons are no closer to this achievement today than they were in 1952. The less-known guests reluctantly attend, anxious about an introduction to a blank-faced audience. Some experienced pros stay away for the very reason they will be recognized and overwhelmed by more fans than they can hope to converse with. Newcomers waiting for a particular favorite cannot enjoy a party while they are concentrating on a succession of introductions, and veteran fans, knowing the futility, get on with their noisy party and make it impossible for those actually listening. These psychological constants assure no amount of tweaking and revamping will ever make the “meet-the-pros party” into a successful Worldcon concept.

Several regional conventions have abandoned the concept without anyone noticing because they have kept the name. But “meet-the-pros” means two extremely different things at Armadillocon and BayCon. At Armadillocon everyone gathers into the biggest program room on Friday night and listens while a humorous pro like Shiner, Cadigan, Snodgrass or Connie Willis cracks jokes about friends in the audience: it’s great stand-up comedy and makes no pretense of giving systematic coverage of the guests. In contrast, BayCon is completely systematic, stationing guests at tables on the perimeter of a ballroom and having fans circulate among them in a glorified autograph party. (The number of guests and attendees at a Worldcon probably rules out adopting BayCon’s model, as would the amount of regimentation, which might alienate some well-known pros.)

Art Show Print Shop. Photo by Carol Porter

ART SHOW: MagiCon’s “meet-the-pros” made a worrisome first impression, but did not prove typical of the committee’s planning or awareness of people’s needs. Only an hour later I was both grateful and impressed about Thursday night’s Art Show preview for MagiCon staff. This year no worker needed to say he or she was too busy working the con to see the Art Show

At the staff preview, as he did throughout the weekend, Vincent Di Fate guided fans through an extensive exhibit of his collection of historic science fiction art, giving his insights on each artist’s technique and impact on the field.

[Continued: Worldcon Wayback Machine: Friday at MagiCon (1992) Day Two.]

Vincent DiFate