Corflu FIAWOL Report

Corflu 36 FIAWOL (Rockville, Maryland, May 1-4, 2019)

“They toiled over their crude mimeographs, turning out their magazines.  These magazines have long since crumbled into dust, but who amongst us can ever forget the names?  Grue and Hyphen; Amazing and Astounding; Galaxy and Quandry and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionStartling, Confidential, Infinity, Dimensions—these names will never die!”

                                                                     Robert Bloch, “A Way of Life” (1956)

By Martin Morse Wooster: One of the advantages of living in Washington is that eventually all the branches of fandom you’re interested in will come to you.  I’ve been to three previous Corflus—two held in the Washington suburbs in 1986 and 1994, and the one held in Annapolis, Maryland in 2002.  I always am happy to go to conventions I can get to on the bus, so when I heard Corflu was coming to the Maryland suburbs, I signed up.  I had a good time.

Michael Dobson, with Curt Phillips as second-in-command, organized Corflu 36.  Phillips, among other things, ran a very well stocked con suite, including three kinds of orange marmalade for breakfast.

Members got quite a lot of stuff.  Dobson edited a 163-page fanthology of members’ writings, which is also available on Efanzines.  Some mossbacks grumbled that Dobson used CreateSpace as his publisher, but I thought the book was well done.  Also included in the members’ packet was Thy Life’s A Miracle:  Selected Writings of Randy Byers, a 135-page anthology edited by Luke McGuff.

But that wasn’t all!  We also got a framed print by Dan Steffan, in a limited edition of 90, which showed a nude Japanese woman with creatures on her back that resembled those of British artist Arthur Thomson.  It was a very handsome piece of art, and I will put it on my shelf next to the Star Wars thingie I got at Nationals Park.

The attendance was around 55, with half a dozen fans from the United Kingdom, Murray and Mary-Ellen Moore from Canada, and 10-12 fans from the West Coast.  You could spot the Californians because they were most of the attendees at the wine tasting organized by Spike.

Younger fans allergic to grey hair would not have enjoyed themselves.  Four of the fans attending—Greg Benford, Jim Benford, Steve Stiles, and Ted White—began their fan activity before 1960.  Most attendees began to be fans in the 1970s and 1980s.  No one surveyed became a fan after 1990.

I spent much of the time in the con suite listening to stories about 20th century fan legends.  I heard about the Scottish fan who, after losing a feud with everyone else in his club, dropped out only to appear in the pages of a tabloid completely nude except for a hand coyly placed over his manhood.  The headline of the piece about the fan was ‘IT’S ORGYTASTIC.”

“Do you mean this guy discovered orgy fandom?” I asked.

“No, it was more like orgy con-dom,” said my source, who added that the fan liked showing up at the orgies he organized in a gorilla suit, because women liked sitting on his lap and stroking his fur.

But the story too good to check was whether two Arab sheiks offered to buy Baltimore fan Lee Smoire at Discon II in 1974 for two camels.  This claim would be absurd and ridiculous about any other fan than Lee Smoire, who stories cluster around like gaudy barnacles.  I cite it to add to Lee Smoire’s legend[1].

The first day of Corflu had the opening ceremony, where a sacred box is unearthed that included a crusty bottle of correction fluid or “corflu.”  The convention chooses a guest of honor by pulling a name from the box, but you can opt out of the honor with a $20 donation.  The winner was Jim Benford, who got all the donation money, which he reportedly spent at the fanzine auction on Saturday.  His other prize was a pillow, designed by Alison Scott, which says “Dave Kyle Says You Can’t Sit Here” and has the badge of the Science Fiction League of the 1930s.

Saturday’s program included three panels and I went to two.  A panel on archives featured Non-Stop Press publisher Luis Ortiz, who has just published an anthology of fanzine writings from 1930-1960, Michael Dobson, University of Maryland (Baltimore County) archivist Susan Graham, and Joe Siclari, head of fanac.org.

Susan Graham said that her library bought the fanzine collection of Walter Coslet in 1973 and subsequently acquired the fanzines of Peggy Rae Sapienza, who was graduated from the school.  These fanzines included many of Sapienza’s first husband, Bob Pavlat, a famed collector.  They’ve also gotten some Frank Kelly Freas art and some papers, including manuscripts by Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, and Lawrence Watt-Evans.  They’re still organizing their zines, but their website https://lib.guides.umbc.edu/fanzines has a finding aid and essays on feminist fanzines of the 1970s, fanzines’ role in society, and the Atlanta Science-Fiction Organization fanzine Cosmag.

Fanac.org scanned 2,000 pages of fanzines at Corflu.  Siclari said that he had gotten research requests from unexpected places.  They helped out the recent documentary on Ursula K. Le Guin, for example.  And when the family of fan H.F. Koenig asked for copies of Koenig’s fanzines, they donated a copy of the family genealogy to Fanac.org.

There are also reports of what happened to Harry Warner, Jr.’s fanzine collection.  It is apparently in one piece and is being stored at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.  No one knows what Heritage plans to do with Warner’s collection.

The second panel was on Void, which included the zine’s editors, Greg Benford, Jim Benford, and Ted White, and Luis Ortiz, who is working on an anthology of pieces from the zine.  Void began in 1955, with teenage fans Greg and Jim Benford as editors.  When the Benford brothers moved from Germany to Dallas, Tom Reamy became an editor.

The Benfords put out 13 issues of Void between 1955-58.  But Jim Benford decided to give up fanac for college.  Another catalyst for change was when Kent Moomaw, a columnist for the zine, killed himself on his 18th birthday rather than be drafted.  In 1958 America was at peace, so there was about a 20 percent chance he would be drafted.

Void then moved its headquarters to New York City, and continued with editors including Greg Benford, Ted White, Pete Graham, and Terry Carr.  It lasted another 14 issues through 1962 with a final issue published in 1967.

Both Greg Benford and Ted White said that writing for Void inspired their professional careers.  Greg Benford said that his fan writing prepared him to win a contest sponsored by Fantasy and Science Fiction that launched his career as a novelist.

“All of our fanac was fun because of the challenges we met,” White said.  “I thought Terry (Carr) was a better writer than me, and it was a daily challenge to write to his level.”

Void even had a song, with the music being whatever you’d like.  Here is the first verse.

“We are the Void boys
We make a lot of noise!
We sing songs of fandom
Hitting out at random
Because we are all co-editors of Void.”

Saturday night had two panels.  “Just a Minac,” organized by Sandra Bond, was the fannish version of the British game show “Just a Minute.”  The idea is that the contestants—John D. Berry, Rich Coad, Rob Jackson, and Nigel Rowe—would give one-minute speeches, delivered “without hesitation, repetition, or deviation”—on topics such as “The Nine Billion Names of God” or “My Favorite Beer.”  This was not as easy as its sounds, and I thought it was agreeably silly.  Nigel Rowe seemed the most creative contestant to me, but Rich Coad was the winner.

“The Time Chunnel” was a play by Andy Hooper that described two worlds, one where sf dominated and one where fandom ruled.  In the fannish world, mimeos were much better but leaf blowers didn’t work.  It had plenty of in jokes about fanzines, but also weird popular culture references; if you are excited by references to comedian Durward Kirby, best known as a host of Candid Camera in the early 1960s, “The Time Chunnel” is a play for you.  I didn’t think it worked.  

Since the FAAN Awards have already been covered, I’ll skip them, but I should write about Jim Benford’s guest of honor speech, which was very good.

If Greg Benford’s day job was as a physicist at the University of California (Irvine), his brother worked in technology.  He said that fanzine writing prepared him to write proposals.  “I had the best proposals,” Benford said, saying that fan writing ensured his proposals were better organized than other physicists with less writing experience.

Jim Benford has spent most of his career developing particle beams and other energy weapons.  But three years ago he was given a ten-year contract by billionaire Yuri Milner to design starships.  He now works on solar sails that could guide a future mission to Proxima Centauri.

The problem with solar sails, Jim Benford said, was “The Fearless Fosdick problem.”  Li’l Abner fans will recall that Fearless Fosdick valiantly fought the bad guys until they blasted him full of holes.  How do you create a solar sail that wouldn’t tear apart?  Benford showed how a spherical shape would produce the best outcome.

He said that if someone in 1959 told him that 60 years in the future “I’d be talking to a bunch of fans about starships, I’d be a very happy man.”

Next year’s Corflu will be run by John Purcell in College Station, Texas, in a date to be determined.



[1] The best story I know about Lee Smoire is that, after John Lennon was assassinated in 1980, Yoko Ono asked for a moment of silence to honor him.  Smoire was escorting people around the Baltimore Convention Center and when the designated minute occurred spent the time shouting, “DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE QUIET?”

After Smoire left Baltimore for Perth, Australia, packed panels at the next two Disclaves told stories about her.

Sasquan Fan Funds After-Auction Report

By Ulrika O’Brien: I confess when I first sat down at the cashiers’ table, I felt a degree of trepidation.  As I surveyed the crowd across the dim and smoky haze in Guinan’s, it seemed to me that most fans present were there to drink and weren’t terribly interested in our little proceedings. But from the moment Andy Hooper took the mic, the auction rolled along at a spanking pace with brisk and lively bidding and much jollity.  It was a good time, and made good money.

Final auction sales came to $1870.00, divided thus:

TAFF: $747.00
DUFF: $1,101.00
GUFF $22.00

Checks to TAFF and DUFF sitting administrators will be sent out this week; GUFF funds have been disbursed.

There were a lot of heroes who made this auction so successful, and I will probably manage to forget someone because it was a long and busy convention but here goes:

AUCTIONEERS

  • Andy Hooper
  • Jerry Kaufman
  • Norman Cates

PREP AND RUNNERS

  • Randy Byers
  • Andrew P. Hooper
  • Tom Becker
  • Scott K.
  • Nina Horvath

Especially the super-helpful Kelly Buehler, who was originally only there to run the sound board and stepped up like a champ.

ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT

  • Carrie Root
  • Mark Plummer
  • Claire Brialey
  • She who would rather not be named on the internet

And of course a gigantic shout out of thanks to everyone who donated auction goods, and everyone who came and bid and bought our stuff. You guys are all TOTALLY AWESOME.

Humbly submitted: Ulrika O’Brien, TAFF ‘98

W.O.O. F. Collation at Sasquan

W.O.O.F, the World Organization Of Faneditors, created by Bruce Pelz for the 1976 Worldcon, will hold its annual collation at Sasquan.

Andy Hooper has set the copy count at 73, and he will accept zines by mail up to the Monday before the convention (August 17).

There also will be a box for submissions during Sasquan at the Lost World Fanzine Lounge. Hooper plans to collate the distribution during the Hugo ceremony, also in the Lounge.

Adds Hooper, “I’ll be bringing large envelopes that can accommodate A4 sized pages, and will include odd-sized contributions without stapling them. Copies will available after the ceremony and throughout Sunday at the lounge, and copies for distant contributors will be mailed within a week of the convention’s end.”

Contact Andy Hooper at fanmailaph (at) aol (dot) com.

Hooper is Hip, Hops to Help WOOF

By John Hertz: WOOF is the World Organization Of Faneditors, an amateur press association whose publication is collated and distributed annually at the World Science Fiction Convention.

The 2014 Worldcon, Loncon III, was August 14-18. In closing it duly turned over operations to Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, August 19-23 at Spokane, Washington, U.S.A.

Sasquan with commendable alacrity — a fine word, even if not very fannish — meaning alacrity, not commendable — has already posted Randy Byers as host of its Fanzine Lounge. This too should be jes’ fine.

Through various exchanges with Byers and Andy Hooper his frequent co-operator I learn, and am authorized to say, that Hooper in his typical acuity has taken the torch and will be the Official Collator for the 2015 WOOF.

WOOF began in 1976. Its sole officer is an Official Collator; but this place has at times been vacant. WOOF has now and then missed Worldcons — whether or not Worldcons have missed WOOF (although 1990s Business Meetings considered a proposal to make WOOF an official publication) — but so far has risen again.

There was alas no WOOF collation at Loncon III, possibly due in part to “Aren’t you doing it?” “I thought you were doing it!” One regular contributor who could not attend sent his WOOFzine via global overnight delivery, followed by messages via telephone, E-mail, electronic text, and courier, in hopes of answering the eternal question What the Foucault is going on? (The contributor is a physicist. Of course I only paraphrase.) That’s fandom, folks.

WOOF is a Bruce Pelz invention. Suford Lewis offered the two best proposed epitaphs for him I’ve heard, Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (“If you seek his monument, look around you”, alluding to Sir Christopher Wren) and He had a fruitful imagination. It may be worth mentioning that from Radio Station WOOF, Hoople, Southern North Dakota, Peter Schickele while ignorant of WOOF the apa so far as I know has broadcast music of the composer he discovered to the world, P.D.Q. Bach. I knew Pelz, and have been associated awhile with this WOOF, but it would take a less trepid fan than I (I am not, however, a tepid fan) to venture whether it, younger than Schickele’s, was named ignorantly of him.

TAFF Platforms Released

Brad and Cindy Foster, Curt Phillips and Randy Smith are your official Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund candidates in the 2014 race to pick a delegate to Loncon 3. Here are their platforms and nominators —

Brad and Cindy Foster

Why Brad and Cindy? Because they are one mind in two bodies. (They wish they had two minds, but that’s asking too much.) Because between them they have covered almost all the fannish bases. And, because this is probably the only way they will ever get to see London. He draws pictures – lots of them, and has lived the life fannish through zines and locs. (A paper-person.) She has been social (a people-person) through conventions and conversations. He’ll have to look you up in his files to remember which zine you pub, but she’ll remember your name, face, and family history.

Nominators: Mike Glyer (US), Andy Hooper (US), Steven Silver (US), David Langford (UK), Yvonne Rowse (UK).

Curt Phillips

I am a fan. I guess I always have been; I think I always will be. I’ve collected more science fiction than I’ll ever have time to read, but I keep on collecting more. I’ve written for and published fanzines; I’m the OE of FAPA. Have done many other fannish things in my time, both usual and unusual. But I’ve never traveled outside America. I’d very much to meet some of the wonderful fans in the UK and from across Europe as your TAFF delegate, and then come home to write about my adventures for you. Please support TAFF! Vote!

Nominators: Randy Byers (US), Ulrika O’Brien (US), John Purcell (US), Claire Brialey (UK), Pat Charnock (UK).

Randy Smith

Fandom is a conversation that began in the letter columns of the 1920s pulps and now extends around the world. As active participants in that conversation, we can look for new ways to expand, strengthen, and create new and divergent paths of exchange. We truly never know where it will take us. The TAFF delegate to LonCon 3 will be able to contribute in some small and unforeseen ways to that creative conversation. I would be honored if that person were me. I also promise a speedy appearance of my trip report.

Nominators: Christopher J. Garcia (US), Mark Olson (US), Kevin Standlee (US), Colin Harris (UK), Patrick McMurray (UK).

[Thanks to Jim Mowatt for the story.]

A Get-Well Card for Stu

Taral Wayne has produced a one-shot, The Slan of Baker Street [PDF file], that he hopes friend and fellow fanartist Stu Shiffman soon will be reading:

I don’t remember my first thoughts when I learned of Stu’s stroke. I doubt it was until the second day, or even the third, that I decided Something Ought to be Done. Since I was unable to perform miracles, I decided that perhaps a one-shot, get-well zine would help cheer Stu up, and aid his convalescence.

The Slan of Baker Street contains memoirs from Taral, Andrew P. Hooper and Rob Hansen, and artistic tributes by Taral, Sheryl Birkhead, Kurt Erichsen, Alan White, Steve Stiles, Brad Foster. Its grand finale is a gallery of Stu’s work from the Seventies and Eighties

I’m a big fan of the writing of Andrew Hooper: his contribution to The Slan of Baker Street shows why you should be, too:

The flights are as safe as one can make a ride in an antique airplane, but I feel just a little uneasy as I peer between the trees and clouds to see the tall tailfin float by again. Another flying B-17, Liberty Belle, made a forced landing in Illinois last year, and was totally destroyed by the fire that followed. Aluminum Overcast drifts overhead so slowly that it gives an impression of searching for something, like an aircraft lost in an old Twilight Zone episode, confronted with the 21st Century landscape below. These anxious fantasies come easily to mind this week, because I’m waiting for someone to get well, someone whose condition seems analogous to an aircraft trying to make its way home through a persistent fog. Stu Shiffman is one of my oldest friends in fandom, a longtime collaborator, correspondent and colleague.

Space Cadet #19

R. Graeme Cameron’s Space Cadet #19 [PDF file] has many things to recommend it, and I will mention two of them.

There is Andrew Hooper’s meticulously considered and finely-styled article “Attack Ships on Fire: Memories of Bladerunner,” written in commemoration of the movie’s 30th anniversary. His work is always a pleasure to read.

And there is a bit of news I’ve seen nowhere else – Cameron says Montreal’s annual  Con*Cept is dead:

This is the traditional general-interest SF con put on every year by MonSFFA, the Montreal SF club. Cathy Palmer-Lister stepped down as Chair and there was no one to replace her. Never mind trying to get enough volunteer gophers, they couldn’t fill the roster of the ConCom committee.

The con’s Facebook page confirms this development, although the Con*Cept website still gives the impression things are proceeding as planned for an October event. I also scoured the MonSFFA website for hints of trouble without finding any. However, the report appears credible.

2012 FAAn Award Voting Stats

Andy Hooper’s compilation of the 2012 Fan Activity Achievement Awards can be downloaded via this link: 2012-FAAN-Awards-stats.pdf [PDF file].

Fifty-six fans voted. You can find nearly all of the zines they liked at eFanzines.com, now the cornerstone of the fanzine field. Indeed, I thought it would be useful to post links to all the online sites that received more than 10 points:

Best Fan Website
eFanzines.com – Bill Burns: 179
File770.com – Mike Glyer: 48
Ansible.co.uk – Dave Langford: 27
Fanac.org – Joe Siclari/Jack Weaver: 23
Fiawol.org.uk – Rob Hansen: 20
Cartiledgeworld.co.uk – Graham Charnock – 17

P.S. True, you’re already here. You don’t need a link. But what if someone copies this list to another blog, eh?

2012 FAAn Awards Voting Deadline

Andrew Hooper, FAAn Awards Administrator, discovered that different versions of the 2012 FAAn Awards ballot did not have the same deadline. To resolve the conflict he will accept ballots through March 9.

The printed ballot lists March 8 as the deadline, while the PDF ballot at Corflu.org says the deadline is March 1.

Even going by the later deadline there is limited time left to vote, so if you haven’t already done so, click on the link to the Corflu website and get involved.

Categories Set for 2012 FAAn Awards

The Fan Activity Achievement Awards (FAAN Awards) categories have been tweaked in readiness for next year reports Arnie Katz in Glitter #20.

Administrator Andy Hooper has determined the 2012 categories will be: Best Genzine, Best Perzine, Best Fan Writer, Best Fan Artist, Best Fan Website, Best Letterhack (Harry Warner Jr. Memorial Award) and Best Anthology or Single Issue.

The Number One Fan Face will be determined by point totals in the seven categories.

Also, Hooper is looking for faneds who will pub their ish between Thanksgiving 2011 and February 1, 2012 to distribute a paper FAAn Awards ballot as a rider. If you’re willing to help, e-mail him at this edress — fanmailaph (at) aol (dot) com.