Brighton WorldCon ‘87: A Slightly Delayed Report

Conspiracy 87 logoBy R. A. MacAvoy: I had thought to begin this trip report with the idea it was something lost in the mail.  Lost for many, many years.  That seemed clever at first, but I realized that my memories aren’t close to clear enough for me to get away with that.  Not even with people who know how muddled my memories can be.  So, instead, this is a trip report to a con that didn’t get written in 1987, but is being written now, in 2016.  In a way, that makes it easier.  I don’t really have to explain getting things muddled.  I can simply be glad I remember anything.

In early 1987 I was between books, and as always in that situation, I felt desperate to do something fannish to keep my hand in until the next idea came my way. And I was reading that the World Con, which was going to be held in Brighton, was having the usual difficulties getting funds together, so I reasoned I could solve their problems and mine with one very long journey, from the West Coast of California to the South Coast of England and back.  This was not really financially responsible, of course.  My income was, at the time dedicated toward building onto our excuse for a house, whilst Ron’s income kept us living in it day to day.  But still, I could take it off my taxes.  Business expenses, or some such.

I went alone, because Ron could not get time off to travel with me. It seems, then and now, the software industry doesn’t allow for holidays except at the most peculiar times, such as when we went to the arctic circle in mid-winter.  But that happened many years later.  To Brighton World Con I went alone.

And going that way isn’t particularly fannish. At the time, it seemed to me that fans travelled in close packs, crept into hotel rooms unnoticed and slept on the floor, hoping not to be noticed.  This might explain why SF conventions, even large ones, were not particularly desired events at hotels around the world.  That, plus the fact that SF fans have an abysmally low bar bill compared with most any other sort of convention, and hotels do depend upon the bar bill when hosting conventions.

So. I arrived alone at Brighton and was put into a room at the Radisson Hotel, which was far above my pay-grade, but also far away from the convention center.  I remember I thought about all the unused space in my room, and wondered if I ought to sneak some more fans of some sort into the hotel.  But I literally didn’t know anybody, and also, I wasn’t confident I could pull it off.

I walked down the road between the Radisson and the convention center, and across the way was the water and the famed Brighton Pier. At the time it was a mess.  There were signs warning of danger and unsafe surfaces.  The Channel itself reminded me very much of Lake Eerie, where I grew up.  As long as one can’t see the other side, any body of water seems to be an ocean.

The lines for registration were very long and registration is more than usually dreary when one shows up alone. When I finally got to registration there was a great deal of ka-tah over which sort of badge I should have.  I was certainly no sort of guest, but I wasn’t to be considered a proper sort of fan, either, as I had, at the time, published six or seven books in the field.  So I was shuffled around until I had some sort of badge with my name on it and something that described me as a writer, but as nothing special.  And that is the perfect description of what I was and what I intended to be at the con.  Nothing special.  No panels.  No responsibilities.  Free.

What does a lonely fan do at a convention, when presented with the leaflet describing the coming programming? I know what I did.  I looked immediately for the dealer’s room and the art show.  And the masquerade, of course. Panels were the last thing on my mind.

The dealers’ rooms were huge, and the art show was glorious. I can say today I’ve never seen the like of the art show at Conspiracy ’87.  I remember especially one man who created art out of skulls he found as roadkill.  These were mostly skulls of raptors, including owls, although I believe I saw a few fox skulls as well.  In the eye sockets of the cleaned skulls he inserted gems, beveled in silver or gold.  Sometimes, he also placed jewels in the foreheads.  They were stunning, and the price was astronomical.  To me, at least, astronomical.  I did set my eye on some of the plaster reproductions of such skulls, which were indistinguishable from the real thing, in my eye.  There was one of an owl’s skull . . . I wondered if I had the chutzpah to wear a jeweled owl’s skull around my neck, once back at the ranch. But more about that later.

The first convention assemblage was a large open forum. A sort of welcome to the convention, I suppose, with numerous speakers from the Brighton Fan Community.  They were all young men and all seemed to have the same message.  It was an angry message.  They said that Americans, (and they made no clear distinction between Yanks and Canadians, so I suppose we were all in that boat together,) had hijacked this British convention.  They were extremely irate.  I was flabbergasted, because the message I had received from my friends who worked at Locus and at The Other Change of Hobbit back in California, had been that we must rescue the convention, which was in danger of bankruptcy.  Since then I’ve learned that every convention is in danger of bankruptcy.  That is a convention’s normal state of existence.  But as I’d come so very many miles with the idea I was helping, I have to say my feelings were hurt.  The other repeated message told us from the podium of that one huge assembly was that Americans did not write proper SF, but instead stories of ‘Red Indians in Outer Space’.  That, like the owl’s skull, will be important to this story later.

Luckily, I don’t remember a single name of the angry young men who spoke from the podium that day. I don’t think any of them were writers.  Those names I would have remembered. I watched the audience carefully from my position standing near an exit door.  (That is my preferred position at all convention events.)  The people I could tell were American, mostly by their shoes, for at the time Americans wore a sort of brightly-colored trainer than was uncommon footwear to other people, seemed to shrink into their seats.  And I watched for the rest of the convention as the Americans went about their business, getting into and out of lifts, and dodging people in hallways, muttering the word ‘sorry’ almost as a mantra.  I have never seen a less confident lot of hijackers in my life.

I must repeat here that the angry young men of Brighton did not represent anything of Britain, or of England, but themselves. Because the cost of meals at the convention hall was so steep, I began to make a practice of darting out of the building to get my meals at near-by shops, where the locals were so warm and friendly, and so careful to guide a visitor into not buying more food than she could likely afford, that any idea I might have had of extending the distinct feeling of unwelcome beyond the doors of the convention center died aborning.  I also visited a florist and bought daisies, first to have someone to talk to and later to have silly things to give away.

As it turned out, it was not only the Americans who felt rejected by the welcoming speeches. There were Dutch, Swedish, Australian and Italian fans at the convention also.  We met at the bars and in lobby corners and had a fine convention of our own.  And it was there that I met my own Jugoslav translators, who had come with the specific idea of meeting me.  (I never knew I had Jugoslav translators.)  It was flattering and embarrassing to meet them, especially after I stood them up at a meeting we had scheduled the first day, which flew out of my head completely with the overwhelm of the con.  So I spent the next few days chasing them down hallways, constantly apologizing, and trying to explain that yes, I was that naturally disorganized and that I did appreciate them.  I really did.  Finally we all made up.  In years to come, when there was no longer a Jugoslavia, I used to wonder what had become of the two of them.  They were sparkling with enthusiasm and energy.  I know I gave them daisies.

Doris Lessing signs at 1987 Worldcon. Photo by Frank Olynyk.

Doris Lessing signs at 1987 Worldcon. Photo by Frank Olynyk.

During the convention I missed the opportunity to meet two people I would have liked to meet. The first was Doris Lessing.  I stood within three meters of her and said to myself go on. Step forward.  She can only look through you and give a blank smile.  She can’t hurt you.  But I couldn’t.  I was so very intimidated at the idea of being in the same room with Doris Lessing that I couldn’t move.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  I have often been in the same room with her work.

The other person I didn’t meet was Dave Langford, who was one of the fan GOHs.  If I could have known the future I would have sought him out and said Langford, one day in the future we will be friends, and so I’d like to shake your hand now. But of course, I didn’t know and I didn’t shake his hand.  These days, I post or comment to him almost daily, and I suppose time travel is completely unnecessary to the process.


The second morning of the convention I had a most peculiar experience. Even for convention fandom, it was most peculiar.  I was under the awning of the convention center, waiting for the doors to open. (I am incurably early for everything.  That is, when I haven’t forgotten to show up at all.)  I put my backpack and convention bag down and sat with my back against one of the awning posts, waiting for the doors to open.  A minute or so later another fan appeared.  A young man.  Very young.  He stood there and looked down at me.  His eyes narrowed and he asked me where I had gotten that badge.

I thought he was inquiring about registration, but as I opened my mouth I saw he already had a badge. “Where did you get THAT badge?” he repeated, heatedly. “It’s not yours.  Everyone is going to know it’s not yours.”

I had no idea how to answer him. Should I show him my passport? My driver’s license? But then, why should I show this boy anything?  I pointed to the name.  R.A. MacAvoy.  “That’s me,” I said.  I looked at his badge, but I have no memory of what his name was.

With complete assurance, and with fists balled at his side, he told me “I know R.A. MacAvoy, and you’re not him!”

There were so many layers of misunderstanding in this I didn’t know how to address it. It did know to slide up the steel post I’d been leaning against, so I’d be on my feet.  I told him my name was Roberta A. MacAvoy.  I hate to say that to people, because the name ‘Roberta’ has always fit me as well as roller skates fit a pig.  But it was the clearest explanation I could give.

His voice rose to a shout. “It’s Robert A. MacAvoy.  What is he?  Your father?  Or did you make up this fraud from scratch?”

It occurred to me that the boy had conflated me with Robert A. Heinlein somehow. Perhaps he was young enough not to know the difference.  But his mental processes had ceased to matter at this moment, as he was approaching me square-shouldered and full of belligerence.  My mind raced.  I was I a foreign country and I did not know what my rights of self-defense were.  I was imagining ending up in jail for hurting this idiot.  I was also imagining my refusing to defend myself and ending up in hospital.

At that moment the big glass doors burst open and two men in convention center security uniforms came to stand between us – between me and the angry boy. One security man quietly asked me what was going on.  I replied to him that I had no idea what was going on, but that I was profoundly glad to see him.  The other security man tried to touch the young fan and was repeatedly brushed away.  A few seconds later I was in the convention hall.  It was almost time to open, after all, and I was very grateful.  The security man even carried my backpack and swag bag into the hall with him.  I might well have forgotten them and left them in the street.

To this day I have no idea why my identity was questioned by the young fan so strenuously. It’s a mystery.  Thank ghod it didn’t become a bloody mystery.


That’s about what I remember from Conspiracy ’87. The panels were like panels everywhere.  The running up and down the streets of Brighton was not my usual convention experience, as it took place outdoors.  The masquerade was astonishing. I bought the replica owl’s skull, with silver and garnets.  Between earthquakes and moving house, somehow I no longer have it.

But, if you remember, I began this by saying I had gone to Brighton between story ideas. I came home with a good one. At least I think it’s good.

I wrote a novel about red Indians in outer space. Because the First Nation people are no more red than any other group of humans, I had my protagonist genetically altered to be really red.  And I added in descendants of the people of the subcontinent of India, just to complicate things. It is the only real Space Opera I have ever written.  So I got my money’s worth out of the anger of the young men of Brighton.  In fact, the advance of that book paid for the roof of our house.

40 thoughts on “Brighton WorldCon ‘87: A Slightly Delayed Report

  1. I had always been under the impression that UK fen were notorious for their patronage of hotel bars, to the point of drinking them dry on a regular basis.

  2. I wonder how much of this talk about american hijacking was based on the Scientology invasion.

  3. @Ray

    Well there is certainly plenty of beer drunk at Eastercons and other UK domestic cons. Hotel managers are usually taken aback when told how much beer to order (if the beer isn’t being handled by a fan). I guess MacAvoy was basing her statement mainly on US conventions – where the bar isn’t the social hub of the convention.

  4. I’ve always attended Worldcons as a single individual, so I’m always interested in the stories of other wormen who go alone. What normally makes a big difference for me is to just talk to people, one on one, in lines or at the bar or in the lobby of the hotel. Small human connections make me feel part of the fan community and for an introvert like me, a hotel room alone is a refuge in a sea of strangers giving me a real chance to destress.

    I am sorry that the British fans were a bit prickly about American fans in ’87. By Loncon 3 in 2014, I found them to warm and welcoming. It made traveling to the UK a fantastic experience.

  5. I’ve heard of writers getting ideas from many strange sources, but out of mass rudeness is a new one on me. I wonder if anyone on that concom noticed their misbehavior had such a good result.

    At the close of Seacon ’79, someone announced that the hotel bars had sold some huge amount of draft beer — 19,000 pints? — despite bitter complaints from the fans about the beer being overpriced and of poor quality. (I didn’t hear complaints about the lack of real ale, but CAMRA was relatively new then and may not have had such zealous supporters among fans as it does now.) But I suspect the hotel sold a lot less whiskey than a snooty operation like that was used to.

  6. Hey now, calling a Canadian an American could be considered fightin’ words on this side of the border 😉

    Bertie that incident with the young “fan” sounds both bizarre and somehow not surprising, you have my sympathies :/ And the talk about Americans “taking over” science fiction sounds familiar hmmmm where have I heard such things before? :X

  7. I had, for the most part, a very nice vacation in the United Kingdom in 1987. I remember the strong anti-American hatred expressed by British fans at the Brighton WorldCon. I also remember that I saw anti-American sentiment expressed at no other time during my seventeen-day stay in that country. I wrote it off to the peculiarities of British fandom.

  8. Hmmm. When we say “Americans” in Sweden, we mean people from US. Not from Canada, Mexico or Argentina. I think it is the same in the rest of Europe.

  9. Except when we do mean other Americans. It happens.

    I’m also reminded of Glasgow in 2005, where the fen didn’t drink the bar dry. They drank the brewery dry.

    (I wonder if the 2002 Eastercon still has the record for most chocolate sold over a weekend for the chocolate shop. I remember Peter Weston walking up to a table with three bars of chocolate. 2 kg bars.)

  10. Besides “United States”, the only other name in serious consideration at the nation’s founding was Columbia. Though it would be convenient to have a one-word name, I do not love that particular alternative. An implication that descendants of pre-Columbian people have no place in the country wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate, but anyhow unwelcome.

  11. Conspiracy was my 5th Worldcon, but the first of 19 where I worked as Staff or Committee. When I arrived and checked in on Monday, a local fan thought my Canadian accent was American and politely commented on it, to which I politely and proudly stated that I was Canadian and NOT insulted since I had MANY American friends, thereby defusing the moment. I ended up spending a couple of hours helping out by stuffing the bags with registration packets and freebies, after which the gracious British fans took me out to the nearest local pub. On Tuesday I worked Pre-Reg as a troubleshooter, helping where the lines where heaviest. Beginning on Wednesday I worked the Green Room in the Brighton Metropole Hotel and one of my assignments was to escort GOH Doris Lessing to her panel in the attached Brighton Convention Center. Walking to the lift (elevator to us North Americans), I held the door for her since she walked with a cane, but one of the 2 fans already inside said “Get in or let it go!” in a surly tone. Keeping my temper on a short leash, I coolly turned to her and replied that I was holding it for someone who couldn’t run. As soon as The surly fan saw who I was holding the lift for, she went white as a ghost and if she could have shrunk to the size of an ant and scurried away, she would have. Simultaneously, editor Julius Schwartz, the other person waiting in the left recognized her and went “Hear, hear!” in a delighted tone.

    I ended up making many friends, some of whom I saw at subsequent Worldcons, and a number of whom are now friends on Facebook.

  12. Does anybody have any insight as to the source of 1987-era British fandom’s anti-American attitudes? That whole bit of the story seems odd.

  13. At that time I believe that some British con organizers felt that the SMOFs of that era were trying to take over and run Conspiracy as if it were their own con. Having been a lower level SMOF and knowing how pushy and abrasive some of the higher level SMOFs can be, I understand their feelings completely. 😉

  14. I was at Conspiracy, and now I wonder if my memory is accurate. There was a panel about the influence of Tolkien. I thought that you were on it, and I still remember one thing that I sincerely thought you said: “To write like Tolkien without having been Tolkien is to write badly.”


  15. @Karl-Johan: not the only time. The 1993 Eastercon news sheet noted that it had drunk every drop of Old Jersey Bitter.

    I remember one pro party at Seacon ’79 producing the term “transatlantic riffraff”; I also remember the fans being friendly. A 1987 attendee observed that the committee seemed to be a bit obsessively left-wing; some of them may have concluded that the U.S. under Reagan was irredeemable, but I didn’t see anything on a personal level. (I wasn’t at the Opening Ceremonies.) There may even have been some residual hostility over the 1979 Hugos, where Superman defeated local favorite The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Probably due to a large contingent of supporting members from the US, where (AFAICT) Hitchhiker was not available. This was not vote packing; there was a heated race for the next western-zone Worldcon.)

    I’m appalled but not astounded at Roberta’s episode; fandom was once notorious for collecting people with no social skills (and sometimes long memories…). (Maybe someone told him “You stay here and don’t let anyone in!” and he didn’t get the joke.) Conversely, every single professional security person I’ve met in 4 UK Worldcons has been courteous (even in one case when I was …stressed), just as our narrator found; I wish US pros were as reliable.

  16. About Candians: Ask Charles de Lint how he feels. About the beer: I recall hotel bathtubs tilled with ice and floating cans of cheap beer. Perhaps fans in the past seventies or eighties were more ethical. Or had more money. One thing for certain. Fans don’t seem to drink whiskey or bar-drinks.

  17. I just skimmed through the Conspiracy programme booklet. There is a Tolkien item but that seemed to be just Guy Gavriel Kay. And there’s an item billed as ‘Is Fantasy Getting Worn Out?’ with Patricia Wrede, Cherry Wilder, Guy Gavriel Kay, M John Harrison, Barbara Hambley, Peter Nicholls … and R A MacAvoy. Not that the printed programme is necessarily a guide to what actually happened.

  18. That second one was probably the panel I’m thinking of; the Guy Kay panel was his discussion of helping Christopher Tolkien piece together The Silmarillion from scraps of restaurant napkins and so on. And that second topic could easily have turned to derivative works.

    I wonder if Pat Wrede remembers anything about it. I’ll ask her.


  19. Mark Plummer: Not that the printed programme is necessarily a guide to what actually happened.

    Having worked on the 1988 Worldcon program, far be it from me to throw any rocks inside my own glass house….

  20. “I remember one pro party at Seacon ’79 producing the term ‘transatlantic riffraff'”

    That’s “Yankee riffraff”; said to Ginjer Buchanan.

    And besides, Greg Pickersgill was speaking for Wales, not England.

  21. The bar tab situation surprised me. I would expect more drinking. Fwiw, I’ve heard that hotels love professional librarian conferences because librarians drink a lot but they aren’t particularly messy.

  22. I was also in Brighton in ’87, and yes, the anti-U.S. sentiment there was real and kind of strange. I think I must have missed the opening ceremonies (my memories are hazy too), but I do remember the closing and the hand-off to the next concom, which was an American one, and how surly and ungracious it was–very un-fannish, I thought. One person I discussed it with some time in the past almost-thirty years–and I’ve completely forgotten who or when–thought it had to do with the Special Relationship between Thatcher and Reagan, and that Americans were being blamed for Thatcher’s depradations.

    But I also have a lovely MacAvoy story that I hope will jog the distinguished author’s own memory. In the question session toward the end of some panel or other, an audience member complimented her on her feel for Celtic folklore and asked whether she attributed that to her family background. “Oh no,” she said. “MacAvoy is my husband’s name. I’m Polish.” This brought a huge roar of delight from the Eastern European contingent, who were present in unusually large numbers, perhaps because the Strugatsky brothers were GOHs.

  23. Chip Hitchcock on June 13, 2016 at 5:13 am said:

    I seem to recall that fans drank the place dry, and I heard that they’d been told beforehand they needed to order a lot more beer and soft drinks.

    Things I got from 1979: I can drink tea with milk and/or sugar and it isn’t bad. And grilled tomatoes are good at breakfast.

  24. I was at that convention. And I’m sure you were on at least one panel, because someone asked about your process for channeling your Irish ancestors to produce the genuine authenticity in The Book of Kells. And you looked at him pityingly, and said something like “My dear, I’m not Irish, I’m [something else I don’t recall]. I made it all up.”

    I know I went to quite a bit of programming that weekend, but almost 30 years later, all I recall is that line and Guy Kay’s talk on editing the Silmarillion (which he requested people not record, but somewhere, I still have the copious notes I took).

  25. @Bertie MacAvoy – About Candians: Ask Charles de Lint how he feels.

    Is there a particular place we are meant to look for his answer on this question? I mean I looooooove his work so I’d loooooove to say that we were buddies and I could just ring him up but sadly this pesky reality thing keeps telling me no dice.

  26. I know of at least one US con of the late 80’s that would have been on budget had they not allowed the British guests an open tab at the bar. The con was never held again and the chair was out the money.

    Word quickly spread not to do that, and I worked one where the entire staff from concom to lowliest one-day gopher was told under NO circumstances to allow the guests to charge booze to the con account or to their room (paid for by the con, of course). Credit card, cash, or vouchers each round; the bar and restaurant staff were also informed to disallow it.

  27. Bertie MacAvoy: You were the cause of me and my husband getting together. I accidentally emailed him a comment and a question about The Lens of the World (I thought I was emailing someone else in the same Fidonet echo/newsgroup), and the rest is history.

    So thank you!

  28. I’ve been to smaller cons by myself, but always been with at least my older sister at Worldcons. Sometimes another sister or parents also.

    I missed the one in Brighton. Had planned to be there, but got laid off from a job in ’85, had only 6 month’s work in ’86. I’d started an open-ended temp job in April of ’87, but even on an engineer’s hourly rate couldn’t afford the trip. Something about making mortgage payments in Ohio and paying rent in West Virginia. Parents and big sister had a great time.

    The only non-US Worldcon I’ve made it to so far was ConAdian in ’94. I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t totalled my car on the way to the Columbus airport. That car had deer whistles; it needed Cadillac whistles.

  29. I do recall an undercurrent of anti-US sentiment throughout the 1980s. There was widespread dismay at the siting of US nuclear missiles in the UK, and fury and fear at the use of RAF facilities to launch US air-stakes on Tripoli in 1986

    It was a bitterly divisive era in British politics, and the close relationship between Thatcher and Reagan was perceived as a take-over, with the UK being co-opted into the SDI (aka “Star Wars” initiative) and turned into a US nuclear platform and target.

    Even my Tory voting mother – a conservative woman in both senses of the word – was angry enough to protest at Greenham in 82, and, in an era before the internet created shared discussion spaces like this one, it’s sad, but really not surprising, to learn that fury, despair and resentment sometimes spilled over in fannish space.

  30. @lurkertype: Yeah, I’ve heard horror stories about some GoHs getting drinks for all their friends on the con tab. Not sure it’s limited to British ones; assholiness or being good at spending other people’s money knows no national boundaries, as far as I can tell.

    The cons I’ve run I’ve given the GoHs a daily modest stipend for food and booze, to spend how they want. But not too much – it’s not fun having a drunk GoH at the program or the con.

  31. I was doing a summer abroad program in Oxford in the summer of 1983, and there was lots of warning about anti-US feeling in Britain. I suspect it was tied to the political situation at the time.

    My experience both at Oxford and when I was travelling around on my own for some weeks after (from Wales to Orkney) was that the vast majority of people I interacted with were lovely and welcoming. The further away from the major tourist attractions, even more so–when I got to the Orkneys, people were shocked I’d come all that way–and I had to tell them it was because of Dorothy Dunnett’s King Hereafter a novel about the historical MacBeth set in…Orkney.

    The few problems I had or saw were from angry young (possibly drunk) men.

    (I do remember this odd bit of advice from the program I was in–telling the women not to wear blue jeans, that the English just hated American women in bluejeans! So, I didn’t!).

  32. That was my third Worldcon, after Brighton in 1979 and Denver in 1981. That was the con where I stood on Brighton seafront in the wind while a US fan (large, male) told me that sheep were not meat bearing animals.

    The things we did when we did not understand anything about what was going on.

  33. @Karl-Johan: No, they weren’t all buying drinks for everyone, most of them were just for themselves and their spouses or equivalent! All the guests were British and they drank so much on their own that the con went over budget.

    Thus the one I was on staff for — largely financed by the chair and concom — made it very clear that no guests could charge booze. This meant that the con was able to go on for several years. The guests got a certain amount of vouchers each day and then had to come up with their own drinking money or have adoring fans buy for them. This also had the salutary effect of having the guests sober from early panels through evening events (Or as sober as British actors and writers ever get).

  34. Ah, Conspiracy 87 – my very first con! I think I read about it in the Guardian a few days earlier and decided to see what it was like. Back then I worked for the railways so I didn’t have to pay anything to travel the 220-or-so miles to Brighton, so I went down on the first day, bought a day membership and enjoyed myself so much (apart from the volunteer who didn’t recognise what a day membership badge looked like (it was different from a regular one)) that I went home that evening, chucked a few days worth of clothes into a case and travelled back the next morning and bought a full membership, found a nearby hotel (£50 a night if I remember, no small amount back then, but my credit card had a £250 limit!) and settled in for the rest of the con. It was quite a learning experience, figuring out how Worldcons are selected, so I took the opportunity to buy a membership in Confiction, which I think was the most enjoyable of all the Worldcons (1987, 1990, 1994, 1995, 2005, 2014) I’ve been to.

  35. Regarding my being on the Tolkien panel. I must have been. Those were exactly the words I would have said. I began the report by saying my memories were muddled.

    Regarding the bar-bills. I began my con-life in ’66. I was a baby. What I do remember from that time was people stacked up like logs in hotel rooms and cheating the hotels. Bringing food from home in their suitcases. I remember fans as being very poor, and a number of them spending their lives, year by year, scheduling their days according to how much travel they could get in, to make as many cons as possible. These were North American fans, of course. – And that is Charles’ primary descriptive term for English-speaking writers from that huge double continent. I can’t give exact sources for my statements because he was simply an old friend, and I’ve never aspired to be a fan historian. Of course there are more ‘Americans’ who speak Spanish than English. or who speak Portuguese. From Mexico southwards the genre has been usually called magic realism, and it actually is different from N.A. fantasy. I try to be careful what words I use to describe all these people because I know myself (as a speaker of numerous languages, but speaking all of them badly,) to be a minority. And I don’t want to insult. Not even insult people’s memory of bar-bills.

  36. Surprised at the venom of the boy who was looking for Robert MacAvoy, though I presume using initials is a concious attempt to not drive away those afraid of cooties.
    Don’t know if I ever had an opinion about you. Kind of assumed Robin Hobb was male (I think in the UK it’s more usually a male name, and I had a Great Uncle Robin) and K.J. Parker was probably female.

    The 87 Worldcon must have happened relatively soon after Thatcher’s third election, so the more left leaning elements of British fandom were likely more than usually agitated.

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