Peter Weston (1943-2017)

Peter Weston in 2005. Photo by Bill Burns.

Peter Weston in 2005. Photo by Bill Burns.

Peter Weston, a prolific fanzine publisher and convention organizer, one of the most influential British fans during his lifetime, died of complications of cancer on January 5. He was 73.

Weston discovered fandom in January 1963 at the age of 19. Rummaging through the SF books on sale in the Birmingham Rag Market, he found a slip of pink paper in one of them. “Are you interested in SF?” it asked, exhorting him to “Join the Erdington SF Circle.” Weston soon became active in Birmingham fandom and by November 1963 had published the first issue of his fanzine, Zenith.

Evolving through several name changes — Zenith, Zenith Speculation, Speculation – the fanzine became one of the most successful of those devoted to serious discussion of sf, receiving four Hugo nominations and a Nova award. Weston recalled, “I served a long and painful apprenticeship before Speculation hit its stride around the twentieth issue, when I had wall-to-wall professionals jostling for position – Harlan Ellison, Tom Disch, Fritz Leiber, Terry Carr, they were all there, along with Michael Moorcock who wrote a series of incredible columns… Later Mike was joined by Fred Pohl, who wrote a column for a while, and other professionals contributed, such as Greg Benford and Larry Niven…”

In the mid-Sixties, Weston wrote a fan news column for the British Science Fiction Association’s fanzine Vector under the pseudonym “Malcolm Edwards” – which had humorous consequences when, a few years later, a real Malcolm Edwards joined fandom and was greeted by people who expressed their pleasure at finally meeting him. By coincidence, both the fake Malcolm Edwards and the real Malcolm Edwards went on to chair British Worldcons.

In the Seventies, Weston held three Speculation Conferences in Birmingham (1970-1972), science fiction symposia inspired by his fanzine. He co-founded the Birmingham Science Fiction Group (BSFG) in 1971 and helped originate the convention Novacon that same year. He edited three volumes of the Andromeda anthology (1976, 1977, 1978).

Peter Weston and Ron Bounds at Discon II (1974).

Peter Weston and Ron Bounds at Discon II (1974).

Weston was voted Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate in 1974 and traveled to Washington DC for Discon II — even though this meant leaving behind his pregnant wife, Eileen, who gave birth four days after he departed, according to his trip report Stranger in a Very Strange Land. While in America he gathered support for a newly-created British bid for a Worldcon he would end up chairing at the end of the decade, Seacon ’79 in Brighton.

In his professional life, he once owned a foundry that produced the chrome-plated automobile door handles and hood ornaments for Jaguars, a technology he also put to use (beginning in 1984) manufacturing the rockets for the Hugo Awards.

Peter Weston auctioning a Hugo rocket during Noreascon 4 (Boston), the 2004 Worldcon during which he was a Guest of Honor. Photo by Murray Moore.

Peter Weston auctioning a Hugo rocket during Noreascon 4 (Boston), the 2004 Worldcon during which he was a Guest of Honor. Photo by Murray Moore.

Weston was a Worldcon guest of honor at Noreascon 4 in 2004, where his memoir With Stars in My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom was released. The volume knitted together several of Weston’s autobiographical articles, including two that held the record for number of views on Victor Gonzalez’s early fannish blog, Trufen.

In 2006, Weston revived his fanzine Prolapse (re-titled Relapse in 2009) after a 23-year hiatus. He concentrated on publishing articles about fanhistory. Issues can be downloaded from eFanzines.

Even this full resume of his activities barely suggests his social impact among his friends in fandom, where he was valued as a raconteur, or diplomatic skills, especially a rarity in early Seventies fandom when it still was an anarchic community largely composed of young men.

Weston’s funeral will be on January 23 at Sutton Coldfield. He is survived by his wife, Eileen, and his daughters.

Weston at the 1987 Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Weston at the 1987 Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Update 01/10/2017: Changed year of birth to 1943 per correction in comments.

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12 thoughts on “Peter Weston (1943-2017)

  1. Pete was one of the first people I met in fandom when I joined the Brum Group in the early 70s. We didn’t always get on (there was a stupid disagreement about the running of Novacon once) but in the end such things didn’t matter. He was just one of those people who was always there. And now he isn’t. RIP Pete. I’ll miss you.

  2. I first met Pete at the first Eastercon I attended. He was welcoming to a neo-fan who really didn’t know what they were doing. That was much appreciated.

    So long Pete.

  3. Very saddened by this. I don’t usually comment on the passing of SF/Fannish Community figures, because I’ve been semi-gafiated for years and most active Fans don’t know me from Adam, but I encountered Pete at the very outset of my fannish ‘career’ (my first Con being Novacon 8) and he was the BNF I have always held in more respect (and, well, awe) than any other.

  4. Mike: a small detail. One of Peter’s daughters has confirmed that he was born in 1943, not 1944, and thus was 73. It seems Wikipedia, Fancyclopedia and the SFE are all wrong on the birthdate. — Mark

  5. Peter was, I think, the pre-eminent British fan of the last fifty years, and — though expected — his death is a massive loss.

    He was one of those rare people who excelled at everything he turned his hand to. He was a terrific fanzine editor — first off with Zenith/Speculation, and latterly with Prolapse/Relapse. He had the priceless skill of making it seem easy and natural — the product, of course, of hard work.

    He was an outstanding convention organiser. I was lucky to be a member of the Seacon ’79 central committee — just 10 people to oversee a convention of more than 3000! — and I saw at close hand his managerial skills, a key one of which was the ability to delegate, and tried to learn from them. Every convention/conference I attended which he was involved in organising was well-run.

    He was a good, fluent, writer (again, something he worked hard on) and his memoir, With Stars in My Eyes, is a great evocation of that long-gone era in Britain when SF (particularly American SF) was genuinely hard to find, and it truly was a proud and lonely thing to be a fan!

    His three Andromeda anthologies showed that he might have been a good professional editor, had he wanted to take that path.

    Of all the thing you mention, the least important was the fact that he came up with the name ‘Malcolm Edwards’ for his fanzine review column, hoping to mislead readers into thinking it a collaboration between Donald Malcolm and Edward Mackin (active fans and would be pros of the time. And in fact Peter was almost the only person who remembered it when I turned up a few years later. But in a very real sense I’ve spent pretty much my whole adult life trying to live up to being a Peter Weston pseudonym.

  6. Malcolm Edwards has it right: Pete was indeed the pre-eminent British fan of the last fifty years. A fine fellow. I recall him telling how he bought out the company he worked for and made it a success in the face of a declining economy. He was a good friend I’ll miss terribly…

  7. RIP mate. Enjoyed your company on and off my entire fannish life – panels, discussions, meals. Enjoy yourself in the big jazz park in the sky, Pete.

  8. Hi, I’m Peter’s daughter Susan. Thank you for all of your kind messages. I’m not sure how I stumbled on this page! There is a Facebook page I’ve just set up called Peter Weston Tribute, so if you have anything you’d like to post on there or any photos, please do. And please let others know, we love to hear all the great stories about Dad. Thank you.

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