By Rich Lynch: Today we celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Harry Warner, Jr., who was perhaps the best-known stay-at-home science fiction fan of all time.
Harry was a lifelong resident of Hagerstown, Maryland and a fan for most of his life; his fan activities began in 1936, when he was in his early teens, but by then he had already been a science fiction reader for several years: “My father got a couple of Jules Verne’s novels from the library for me to read [and] I read a little science fiction in the Big Little books, which were popular a long, long time ago. But I didn’t discover the prozines until 1933 – I bought my first Amazings and Wonders in that year.”
The path that Harry took into fandom was via the prozines. When he was 13 years old, he wrote a letter to Astounding’s “Brass Tacks” letters column, printed in the October 1936 issue, which mentioned that he would like to “correspond with someone of my own age or a little older”. Soon afterwards, he received about a dozen letters as well as a few fanzines (called ‘fanmags’ back then) in response, and began a letter exchange with some of the people who had written to him. One of these was James S. Avery, a fan from Maine, who convinced Harry they should co-edit their own fanmag, and in November 1938 the first issue appeared. This was Spaceways, a general interest fanmag which became one of the best fan publications of the pre-war years.
Spaceways was not destined to be a collaborative effort – it turned out that Avery never did contribute any material or effort to the publication so he was soon dropped as co-editor. As for Harry, it turned out that one of his talents was in persuading good writers to contribute to Spaceways; this included such notables as H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Williamson, Bob Tucker, Fred Pohl, Forrest J Ackerman, Sam Moskowitz, and Robert Lowndes. Harry also took great pains to keep Spaceways (and himself) above the fan politics and feuds that were endemic to the fandom of the late 1930s and early 1940s. By doing this, he made many friends and very few enemies.
Harry gained a reputation in fandom as ‘The Hermit of Hagerstown’, this from his reluctance or inability to travel far from home. As a result, he was frequently visited by those who were passing through the region on their way to or from various fan gatherings. One of these, in 1943, was the notorious fan freeloader Claude Degler, whom Harry described as actually behaving like a gentleman, but: “He left Hagerstown without getting into my home, an accomplishment for which I have never been sufficiently recognized.”
Over the years, Harry actually did leave Hagerstown to attend a few science fiction conventions, including the 1971 Worldcon where he was the Fan Guest of Honor. He was never very happy with the large crowd scenes, though, preferring the written word as his way of communicating with other fans. In the last decades of his life, he limited his contact with other fans to groups of two or three at the largest, so if you wanted to meet him you had to go visit him in Hagerstown.
All of his fanac then was done from home, either by publishing fanzines, writing articles for other fanzines, or as a correspondent. His prozine letterhack days were pretty much over by the time he became a fanzine publisher, but he remained a prolific letter writer for the rest of his life, usually in response to the myriads of fanzines he received in the mail. Harry always found positive, constructive things to say about even the most abysmal of crudzines, and it was always a badge of honor for a fanzine publisher to include a Harry Warner letter of comment in the Letters Column. Many volumes could probably be published of the entertaining letters he wrote to fanzine publishers; at least partly for this prolificacy he was voted the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer twice, in 1969 and 1972, winning out over such notables as Walt Willis, Terry Carr, and Susan Wood.
Harry also received one other Hugo Award, in 1993, for Best Non-Fiction Book. His large accumulation of fanzines provided him a resource from which to research the fandom of the 1940s and 1950s, and resulted in two books that he referred to as “informal histories” – All Our Yesterdays (Advent, 1969), about fandom of the 1940s, and A Wealth of Fable (SCIFI Press, 1992), about 1950s fandom. The Best Non-Fiction Book Hugo did not exist in 1970, or both books would likely have won the award.
Harry’s influence as a writer and historian on fandom is huge, and not only in the United States. Noted Swedish fan and writer John-Henri Holmberg wrote that: “What struck me about [Harry’s] letters, as well as his many fanzine essays, was his reasonableness, his sense of proportion, his quiet humor and good sense. In many ways, I suspect that Harry Warner was the ideal fan, in the sense that he managed to avoid both the wild-eyed fanaticism and the angry disillusionment which devour so many of us. He could see both sides to most conflicts, but even more importantly, he could also see that neither was particularly important.”
Harry leaves behind no relatives; only his writings survive him. And even though he was a lifelong bachelor, he was as much a patriarchal figure as has ever existed in science fiction fandom. Not long after Harry’s death in February 2003, fan historian Moshe Feder noted that: “[Harry] may not have any surviving blood kin, but we are his family, and his proper mourners, as is any faned anywhere who will never again receive a Harry Warner letter of comment.” And he’s right.
By Bill Higgins: In August 1986, Jamie and Gail Hanrahan published PyroTechnics #38, a fanzine founded by Jeff Duntemann. It served as a club newsletter for General Technics, a loose organization of SF fans interested in do-it-yourself technology. That was 34 years ago.
In 2003, Andrew Plotkin found a copy of Pyro 38 stored in his dad’s basement. He decided to write a lengthy and thoughtful Letter of Comment. On September 10, 2003, uncertain whether 1987 postal addresses would still be valid, Andrew posted his letter to the rec.arts.sf.fandom newsgroup for all on Usenet to read.
Today I noticed that it has been just about as long between Andrew’s charming LoC and now as it has between the publication of Pyro 38 and the day Andrew posted his letter. I think this is a moment to celebrate.
The most recent issue of PyroTechnics, number 57, was published in 1997, six years pre-Plotkin. Nevertheless, we of the Pyro editorial staff are always glad to receive comments from readers. (I was one of two editors for #57.)
John Ridley, a GT member, has archived most of the issues of Pyro. One may read Issue 38 at this link.
General Technics still exists, and more or less thrives, though we haven’t published a zine in quite a while. We throw room parties a couple of times a year at Chicago and sometimes Detroit cons. We hold a weekend club outing annually. We correspond on a busy mailing list. Some of us have gafiated, but a goodly number are still active fans and/or pros. We still chatter about SF, science, and do-it-yourself technologies. In the Seventies we called ourselves “techies;” the closest modern word, I suppose, would be “makers.”
Anyway, I salute Andrew Plotkin’s noble gesture. He reminds us that fandom is, among other things, a long conversation. Here’s to friendships that stretch across decades. And long may the conversation continue.
[Editor’s Note: Twenty years ago I reprinted Bill Bowers’ catalog of online fanac, Fan Basic 101, in an issue of File 770. As a companion piece, I wrote about my own experiences as a novice website creator. They now make a rather nostalgic set of confessions.]
By Mike Glyer: If you have to write your own HTML code, designing a web page is a lot like being forced to solve one of those word problems that starts “if a train leaves Baltimore at 50 miles per hour.” On the other hand. I’ve always used Microsoft Publisher and I feel the experience combines the best features of building blocks and finger-painting, with no tidying afterwards.
I started out like an Internet neo, searching for free icons, copying blinky lights, culling through hundreds of animated GIFs, and thieving other pages’ colorful backgrounds. Naturally, I also spent hours selecting a free hit counter.
A link on CompuServe’s Ourworld (which hosts my web page) led me to a suite of icons created from photographs of the nine planets as seen from space. They are very well crafted, and float beautifully on a mottled gray background reminiscent of a lunar landscape. I made them the thematic elements of my main page.
Somewhere else I found three sets of animated red, yellow and green console lights that blink at slow, frequent, and rapid speeds. Every article about web page design warns against loading a page with too many animated files and blinking lights. Because “too many” is not a numerical limit, I am free to assume that the ten or twelve blinky lights I’ve used as hyperlinks to news stories is not “too many.”
Once I had my web page set up, I wanted it to be easy for you to read and use. My first concern was the address:
Try getting anyone to type a 55-character address! One solution is getting other web pages to link to mine. Then, the only person who ever has to type the address correctly is the other webmaster. Chaz Boston Baden and the Chicon 2000 page have sent some of you my way. I’d like to set up reciprocal links with more fannish web pages.
I’ve also thought about how to get a shorter URL. The obvious way is to register my own domain and pay to have it hosted on a server. Domain registration costs about $70 for the first two years. At that price I have to ask, for the number of hits I’m going to get, does it make more sense to pay for my own domain, or just send each of you a dollar bill with a polite request to look at the site?
Another way to get a shorter URL is by going through someone else’s domain. Charlie, how about — www.locusmag.com/file770….?
Or maybe I can go in with a local group. SCIFI wants to set up a web page to get some good publicity. Shaun Lyon offered to handle the whole thing for us through Network Solutions. His own “Dr. Who” pages are getting 12,000 hits a day. Hearing that, I darned near left the meeting to drive home and add some “Dr. Who” stuff to my site.
But no. If the sole object was to reach the maximum number of people, it would have made the most sense to convert File 770 to an e-mailed zine. The medium’s practically free. The audience is still there — most, if by no means all, fans get e-mail. Best of all, fans will immediately read something delivered to them, whereas many will never get around to browsing a fannish web page, or necessarily look at one more than once. Despite the advantages I’m not going to do that. Developing layouts that flow text and art together is something I enjoy too much to give up editing a paper fanzine. Designing a web page involves the same pleasures, and adds new dimensions of color, animation, sound and mutability.
As yet, a faned can’t use e-mail to achieve all he can do on a web page. The culture of e-mail use, more than technology, is the main barrier to distributing documents with the same level of design complexity found on a web page. Any use of graphics rapidly increases a document’s size, and fans don’t seem to appreciate receiving unsolicited 400K e-mails. (Bill Bowers handles this by sending a notice that his e-zine is available for you to request.) There are also some technical limits. A document’s layout is unlikely to remain stable if it is read by a different program than created it. And megabyte-sized files will be rejected by the filters on some services.
So for the time being, I’m investing my energy in a web page, and keeping it consistent with the purpose of the paper File 770, not adding any Doctor Who stuff. Of course, I want more people to read it. I assume that when I mail out 325 copies of File 770, 325 people read it. What if I actually knew the truth, the way I know how many readers access my web page? In fact, the number on my hit counter hasn’t changed since last Thursday. Odd how that little counter subverts everything. Suddenly, I don’t need LoCs, I don’t need contributions — I need a big number! I want to win! How can I tap the power of the Internet to draw an audience and shift my counter into overdrive?
I heard there were free services that promote web pages. A search on Altavista promptly retrieved a list of 14. The first one I looked at – SelfPromotion.com — worked so satisfactorily I’ve made no comparisons. SelfPromotion.com is an easy-to-use, free site with extensive and intelligent coverage of search engines and indexes.
It’s even fun to use. SelfPromotion.com’s designer believes – correctly – that users will disdain the simplest instructions and blunder ahead, filling in blanks on the computerized forms with their unenlightened best guesses. So the designer steers us to a tutorial cleverly written as a dialogue between himself and his 6-year-old son. The tutorial proceeds as if we adults were looking over little James Ueki’s shoulder as he learns how to make Dad’s site promote his first web page:
“At first, James wants to use the account name ‘Anakin Skywalker,’ but after Dad explains who Anakin grows up to be, James (unimaginatively) decides to use his name as his account name, and his nickname (‘jkun’ is Japanese for ‘jimmy’) as his password. Dad will have to talk to him about choosing an unguessable password later!”
Fellows like Dad and I are too grown-up to need instructions ourselves, of course, but I closely watch little Jimmy’s progress so that I won’t be embarrassed by making any errors he’s managed to avoid. Along the way I pick up a lot of good information about the differences between a search engine and an index, what they’re looking for and strategies to optimize a page for selection.
He makes Yahoo sound like the grail for anyone trying to increase traffic on their website. He says that Yahoo is selective and it helps a page get listed if it has won some legitimate awards. So my first thought was to go back to the ISP that hosts my page, CompuServe’s “Ourworld,” and apply for consideration as Ourworld’s Site-of-the-Day.
Within hours of getting my e-mail, they notified me that my page had been “suspended.” They sternly reminded me about the three cardinal rules Ourworld homepages must obey: (1) they can’t violate copyright, (2) they can’t post pornography, and (3) they can’t carry on a business. I hadn’t done (1) or (2). That left (3). I knew this was about the subscription rates in the colophons. So I spent a couple of hours finding and deleting the subscription info and reloading the page. The authorities did not trouble me again.
I may never get listed on Yahoo, but I did become CompuServe Out-of-Sight for a day. Meantime, the SelfPromotion.com robots are doing their work. I’ve been listed on at least one search engine. Where? I’ll give you a hint.
People on the island of Vanuatu can’t brag very often about having something North America lacks. Now added to that very short list is getting the File 770 web page indexed on Matilda, their local Internet portal. The Matilda search engine has a series of portal pages tailored for users throughout the South Pacific, including Vanuatu, though Australia and New Zealand probably account for most of their traffic. Matilda added File 770‘s page to its index within two days of submission, a decision encouraged by the frequent mention of “Australia” in stories about the latest Worldcon. Until Altavista, Excite, and perhaps the big prize, Yahoo!, catch up with Matilda’s leadership, fan(s) on Vanuatu will have a lot easier time searching for the File 770 web page than most of you.
But please keep trying!
[The only place you can see that old website anymore isn’t on Vanuatu but at the Internet Archive.]
by Shieldforyoureyes Dave Fischer – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
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 TheHugoAwards.org. 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
29 - Noreascon I
30 - L.A.Con I
31 - Torcon II
32 - Discon II
33 - Aussiecon One
34 - MidAmeriCon
35 - SunCon
36 - IguanaCon II
37 - Seacon '79
38 - Noreascon Two
39 - Denvention Two
40 - Chicon IV
41 - ConStellation
42 - L.A.con II
43 - Aussiecon Two
44 - ConFederation
45 - Conspiracy '87
46 - Nolacon II
47 - Noreascon 3
48 - ConFiction
The Hague, Netherlands
49 - Chicon V
50 - MagiCon
51 - ConFrancisco
52 - ConAdian
53 - Intersection
54 - L.A.con III
55 - LoneStarCon 2
56 - BucConeer
57 - Aussiecon Three
Hugo Voting: Let's Look At The Record Yet Again (2000-2020),
by Jed Hartman and Jo Van Ekeren
Valid Nominating Ballots
Valid Final Ballots
58 - Chicon 2000
59 - Millennium Philcon
60 - ConJosé
61 - Torcon 3
62 - Noreascon 4
63 - Interaction
64 - L.A.con IV
65 - Nippon2007
66 - Denvention 3
67 - Anticipation
68 - Aussiecon 4
69 - Renovation
70 - Chicon 7
71 - LoneStarCon 3
72 - Loncon 3
73 - Sasquan
74 - MidAmeriCon II
75 - Worldcon 75
76 - Worldcon 76
77 - Dublin 2019
78 - CoNZealand
Wellington, New Zealand
Hugo Voting: Let's Look At The Record for the Retro Hugos
Valid Nominating Ballots
Valid Final Ballots
54 - L.A.con III
59 - Millennium Philcon
62 - Noreascon 4
72 - Loncon 3
74 - MidAmeriCon II
76 - Worldcon 76
77 - Dublin 2019
78 - CoNZealand
Wellington, New Zealand
Number of categories includes the Hugo Awards, the Astounding 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Site Selection went from 2 years to 3 years in advance
Site Selection went from 3 years to 2 years in advance
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
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:
Ian Gunn & Karen Pender-Gunn
Gerald [Smith] & Womble
Mark Loney & Michelle Muijsert
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.”
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
The Roger Weddall Memorial Ditmar Controversy
In honour of Fandom’s best Ditmar Controversers, the man who brought you the best Fannish Cat, Cane Toads and other Ditmar atrocities,
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.
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
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
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
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.)
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.
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 Fancyclopedia.org. 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 http://fanac.org/fanzines/Cosmic_Circle_Pubs/)
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 FANAC.org. 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 Fancyclopedia.org.
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 http://fanac.org 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 – https://www.facebook.com/fanacproject/
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.
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:
FRANK GASPERIK:I bid five. 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.
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”.)
I-95 IN ‘95
NONE OF THE ABOVE
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.
CLOSING CEREMONIES. 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);
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;
Kate Bush CD;
Bow tie from Ben Yalow;
Super Hugo book;
Joe Siclari’s signature hat;
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);
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 Fanac.org’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.
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.
1995 SITE SELECTION VOTE
I-95 in ‘95
NONE OF THE ABOVE
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.