This is SKYRACK number 83, published on 6th September 1965 by Ron Bennett, 52 Fairways
Drive, Forest Lane, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England. 2/6d for 6 issues, 35cents for 6 (70cents for 6 issues sent airmail) in USA where subscriptions may be sent, along with congratulations, to neo-Hugo Winner Bob Coulson, Route 3, Hartford City, Indiana 47348. This issue available to non-subscribers @ 1/- or 25c (35c airmail). Reports by Ron Bennett, Brian McCabe, Ted White, Tony Walsh and Jim Groves. Cartoon by Convention prizewinner Eddie Jones.
TRICON IN ‘66
THE TWENTY-THIRD WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION took place over the 27th/30th August weekend in the plush and highly priced (£5 for a bottle of gin) surroundings of the Mount Royal Hotel, Marble Arch, London, Some 350 delegates from many different countries attended the gathering, only the second to be held outside the North American continent.
Cleveland-Cincinnati-Detroit (TriCon) won the right to put on next year’s worldcon (see page 11).
Hugo Awards were won by Fritz Leiber, Gordon Dickson, John W. Campbell, John Schoenherr, Peter George, Ballantine Books and Robert & Juanita Coulson. (Full details on page 9).
The Convention's many speakers were excellent, the panels were excellent and the films, with the exception of the professional Zotz, shown on the Friday afternoon, were excellent. The Delta films, The Castle of Terrors and Breathworld, were particularly notable. The Convention Programme Booklet was neatly produced and ably illustrated (of course!) by Arthur Thomson. There were, however, criticisms of two of the advertisements therein.
The eleven pages which follow are devoted to a sketchy and speedily produced report, personal impressions and quickly taken notes, on the weekend. I look forward to reading more reports, each with a better coverage, a coverage well deserved by a weekend's gathering during which feuds and minor irritations were completely forgotten, a convention which can only be described in glowing superlatives and which represented the very best in the microcosm of science fiction fandom.
OVERHEARD: He can't plot his way out of a wet paper bag. ::: Room ten at 5.30. ::: I ordered a bottle of gin from room service and they charged bar prices. Did they send up any peanuts? ::: What has John Rae written anyway?
LONCON II, the 23rd World Convention, had a rousing send off on the evening of Thursday 26th August, the day prior to the conclave’s official opening, when some seventy fans and professionals gathered extemporaneously at the traditional meeting point of London fandom, the Globe in Hatton Gardens. Not since the comparable meeting of 1957 had the City public house enjoyed such a jostling throng composed of such names as Michael Moorcock, Thomas Schluck, Eddie Jones, Bobbie Gray, Peter West, David Redd, Tom Boardman Jr., Langdon Jones, Charles B. Smith, Dick Eney, Pete Taylor, Frank Arnold, Don Geldart, Graham M. Hall, Chris Priest, John and Marjorie Brunner, Arthur and Olive Thomson, Boyd Raeburn, Forry Ackerman, Dave Kyle, Ron Ellik, Terry and Carol Carr, Mack Reynolds, Poul and Karen Anderson, Harry Harrison, Brian Burgess, John and Joni Stopa, Bob and Barbara Silverberg, Fred and Carol Pohl, Sandra Hall, Ted White, Ben Jason, Lois Lavender, Al Lewis, Ken Cheslin, Jean Bogert, Barry Bayley, Ben Stark, Wally Weber, Ted Forsyth, Ella Parker, Jimmy Groves, Peter Mabey, Bob Bloch, Don Wollheim, Fred Prophet and Ethel Lindsay.
Many of the above also attended a party at the new home of Charles Platt, also attended by Michigan's Jim and Susan Caughran amongst others. A very memorable evening, especially notable for the fact that Harry Harrison had his car impounded by the police for illegal parking.
THE CONVENTION ITSELF opened on time, at 8 pm. on Friday 27th August as Chairman Ella Parker, looking fresh, pert and spruce despite her working into the early hours of previous nights, welcomed especially the many attendees who had travelled from afar. To a call from the back of the hall that someone could not hear Ella quipped, "You can't hear ME?" and immediately set the tone of convivial informality that was to prevail throughout the entire weekend. Ella introduced the Convention Committee to the audience (each member appeared from the back of the stage, carrying his own chair. Ella remarked “As you see, this is a Do-It-Yourself convention."); and then called upon first Ron Ellik and later Tom Schluck to help her in introducing other notable attendees. In addition to the many names mentioned in the paragraph above the following were also present and were introduced: Rolf Gindorf , Walter Ernsting, George Scithers, Guest of Honour Brian Aldiss, Ina and Norman Shorrock, Michael Rosenblum, Eric Bentcliffe, Ron Bennett, Eric Jones and Judith Merril.
HARRY HARRISON introduced his talk ‘SF – The Salvation of the Modern Novel’ by promising that he would make no mention of meat pies, immediately ducking as pies were thrown at him by Brian Aldiss and Tom Boardman. Appearing somewhat loath actually to begin his talk Harrison invited Brian Aldiss onto the platform in order to say something serious. Aldiss merely said “Greybeard costs 18/-." Harrison at last got down to stainless steel tacks, postulating that for SF to be the salvation of the modern novel must be a funny idea. But is it? In his opinion modern novelists have driven themselves into a corner. Basically Harrison’s argument was that only in sf, "can an author express the idea he wishes to communicate" as far as really saying something is concerned. He cited George Orwell and Nevil Shute as two mainstream writers who have made excursions into the field in order to communicate particular ideas. They could not have written these books outside sf, said Harrison. The modern novel must write of something of importance. Sf and sf ideas are important by the very dint of this being a scientific world in which the results of scientific achievement have a definite impact upon people. SF alone can point the way, said Harrison, concluding that the modern novel is dead. “Don’t be afraid to say. We are right. They are wrong." From the audience Judith Merril pointed out that SF comprises modern thinking but not modern literature. Harrison did not altogether agree, pointing out that SF is the harder to write. The SF writer, he said, has to generate a completely new idea and then write well. The modern general writer "has it made." The world, his setting, is there already for him to use. The SF writer has to formulate entirely a new world. John W.Campbell asked whether a writer should concentrate upon the idea to the possible detriment of his writing or whether he should concentrate upon "beautiful prose with lousy ideas" and which should an editor accept, to which point Harrison answered neatly, "You should do as you have been doing." Irene Boothroyd asked how much SF is slanted emotionally at the woman reader, mentioning that in her opinion the amount was not very great. Campbell said that this was a matter of basic economic fact. SF's readership is 95% men, therefore there is a 95% slant towards the male reader. Also men writers far outweighed the number of women writers. Pete Taylor suggested that Campbell produced his magazine in two sections, one slanted for men and costing 47½ cents and the other for women and costing 2½ cents. Harry Harrison suggesting that there could be a small space on the back cover for hermaphrodites! Here the general discussion reverted to the question of whether an editor should concentrate upon good writing or good ideas. Campbell said that as he reads personally every story submitted to him he sees all types of stories, with good and poor ideas and good and poor writing. Whilst he could possibly do better he has to try for the optimum in writing style, grammatical construction and story telling in order to choose the best story for the circumstances.
I'LL APOLOGISE here and now for the lack of detail in the reports which follow and which concern the Saturday programme items. By Saturday the number of attendees had grown considerably and in particular this was a day upon which the majority of one-day attendees dropped into the convention. There were so many old friendships to renew and so many new ones to make that at times it became a definite battle, usually against personal preference, to leave any conversation and fight one's way through the milling groups in the lobby and lounge towards the convention hall. Invariably I just didn't make it!
SATURDAY MORNING opened with a short panel discussion, chaired by Brian Aldiss, in which Walter Ernsting, Franz Ettl, Josef Nesvadba and Josef Dolnicar talked on "SF in Europe," mentioning mainly that the majority of sf on the Continent was translated material and that the only British author who had not as yet been translated but who might be well received was John Newington.
FORRY ACKERMAN stood in for Geoff Doherty and spoke on SF of thirty years ago.
ALL THINGS TO ALL FEN was the title of the fan panel, composed of Beryl Henley, Doreen Parker, Irene Boothroyd, Dave Busby and Charles Platt. I was somewhat surprised to learn that I was supposed to be moderating this panel as I had declined the invitation to do so. A panel moderator needs special balanced skill which, as I know from experience of a Peterborough Convention, I simply do not possess. Accordingly, I declined again. Phil Rogers and Ina Shorrock took over. I was engaged in a hard drinking session in the bar when Charles Winstone came up and said that I was being paged in the hall. I went along, taking my drink with me. Phil Rogers dragged me up on to the stage removing my drink from my hand as he did so. "Just what I need,” he announced taking a sip and immediately declaring in injured surprise, "It’s only orange juice!” It was, too, and he handed it back. Beryl Henley seized me before I could sit down and presented me with a large toy inflatable plastic elephant and said something about a token of something I was too confused to catch (or hadn’t you noticed? I'm very grateful for the elephant, though. Andrew has fallen upon it like a long lost buddy and it has already become his favourite toy). Mainly, the panel discussed the differing quality of fanzines and how much enjoyment each panel member has gleaned (or in the case of Dave Busby not gleaned!) from reading fanzines, from contributing to fanzines and from the social world of fandom as a whole.
THE AFTERNOON PROGRAMME opened with a Transatlantic Quiz, the United States team losing to "The Rest of the World.” Although ahead 14-12 at the half-way stage, the USA were finally beaten by 26 points to 20, the breakdown on scores being as follows (points awarded here denote clear-cut responses In some half dozen instances more than one team, member answered correctly simultaneously): United States: Forry Ackerman 8, George O. Smith 4, Wally Weber 3, James Blish 3. Rest of the World: James Groves 13, Sydney Bounds 6, Thomas Schluck 2, Ken Cheslin 2. Terry Carr was in the Chair and Doreen Parker the scorer.
JOHN BRUNNER spoke on "How to Get High Without Going into Orbit," analysing sf in a most erudite fashion throughout a hour long extremely meaty talk. Brunner analysed the elements in sf which are also found outside the field and how and why they are and can be important to sf. Basically, there are the expansive elements of the vast and the exotic and there are the restrictive elements of ordered life and ordered worlds and of wishful thinking. It requires a talent far beyond mine even to report Brunner whose exciting use of vocabulary and whose command of the English language make him a speaker well worth hearing (which is to say nothing of his ideas). As Michael Rosenblum remarked, "From listening to John, I get the feeling that one day I’m going to be proud to have known him.”
THE EVENING FANCY DRESS PARTY was well attended by many worthwhile costumes, possibly the best and most thoughtful array of sheer creativity it has been my pleasure to see at some dozen conventions. These costumes ranged in standard from the very, very, good down at the bottom of the scale to the prize winners at the top. The prizes were awarded as follows: Most Beautiful Costume: John and Joni Stopa as The Elementals; Most Monstrous Costume: Tony Walsh as The Delegate from Jupiter; Most Authentic SF Costume: Peter Day as Nicholas van Rijn; Most Authentic Heroic Fantasy Costume: Ian and Betty Peters as John Carter and Dejah Thoris (This was the Bob Richardson Memorial Award). Heather Thomson, daughter of the mighty Atom, took the prize for the best costume from a girl under 12 years of age, and Harry Harrison’s son, Todd, now a veteran con attendee in his own right took the award for the parallel boy's category. It is notable that a representative of the national press asked Tony Walsh to walk down to a nearby Wimpy Bar in full costume…."But you'll be in the Daily Express!" Tony refused.
OVERHEARD: I don't know whether or not this is the best convention I’ve ever attended, but it certainly is the hottest!
DICK ENEY chaired the Sunday morning professional panel, "A Robot in the Executive Suite," upon which appeared Judith Merril, Robert Silverberg, Ken Bulmer, Terry Carr, James White and Poul Anderson. Quickly defining that a robot is but a programmed computer, Anderson said that computers could be best employed for work not fit for human beings to do, such as garbage collection, working with radioactive materials or in subscription departments of magazines. Life Magazine, he said, employs IBM computers to conduct its subscriptions department. He told the story of a particularly humid New York day upon which one of the Life computers got a little out of hand sending some three thousand subscription renewal notices to one man who happened to be a sheep herder living out in the wilds of Montana. The local post office had to take a special truck out to the sheep herder who was at time out tending his sheep. He returned to find his porch piled high with sacks of letters. He went through them all and then sat down and sent a cheque to the magazine’s President with the attached note, "You win!” Judith Merril wondered how a robot would edit a SF magazine and Ken Bulmer looked at robots from "the other end of the scale" where experience is the whole point of human existence. Once one has done something, postulated Bulmer, this can never be repeated - in terms of experience. A robot, a machine, could tap these experiences with pleasurable experiences fed directly into one’s brain. Anderson said that the problem concerning machines was not the robots·themselves but, as always, Man. If robots ever reached the point where they would try to make us chromeplated replicas of themselves then this would be something that man has done to himself. We should, he reasoned, be careful about the pockets of life into which we introduced them.
Bob Silverberg suggested that we should isolate our fear of robots which he claimed was not a fear of robots putting road sweepers out of work - "We've lived with that problem since the Industrial Revolution" - but more a fear of the berserk computer, the computing machine which begins to programme itself, where the control is taken from our hands. Anderson felt that such an occurrence was unlikely, saying that we could always pull out the plug or refuse to read such a machine’s silly advice, concluding that a computer's main worth is to give good advice in a complex situation, presenting the optimum way of doing something in a given set of circumstances. He admitted that there are problems impossible for a robot to solve, but felt that a properly functioning robot would manage to get members of a panel into a convention hall on time at 10 a.m., and would ensure that an audience of seventy and a panel of five would function at an optimum level.
BANQUET TICKETS FOR THE THIRTY-FIVE SHILLING ($5) MEAL had been sold out by the end of the Convention's first day and with the seating limited to 150 there were reports of tickets being offered for sale by as much as £4, though it is not known whether there were any takers. The menu was: Consommé aux Etoiles; Filet de Sole Sullivan; Contrefilet Rose Perigourdine, Crottled Greeps and Pommes Amandine; Peche Jules Verne. Coffee and a glass of Pere Jean wine (for the traditional toast) rounded off an excellently prepared but sparsely presented meal. Opinions of those approached upon the matter seemed well united, that the proportions were small, that the service was disappointing, that the meal was overpriced and that those who came into the hall for the after-lunch speeches only, had well saved their money. Particularly as the standard of the speeches was in no way comparable with that of the meal.
OVERHEARD: Young man, not only have I visited it, but I have dropped unequal weights from the top of it!
TOM BOARDMAN, the banquet's Toastmaster, gave the news that the Gemini II spacecraft had finally come to earth, some fifty minutes previously, after its record breaking flight, an announcement heartily applauded by the assembly. It was worthy of reflection, said Boardman, that one attendee had been asked by the same press who would report this fact to appear in a public place in fancy dress. In introducing the Worldcon's Guest of Honour, Brian Aldiss, Boardman said that it was difficult to find something new to say about a writer whom he had first met in 1957, whom he had re-met in Harrogate in 1962 and who was now co-editor of. SF Horizons, a former Hugo Winner, an ex-President of the BSFA and a writer known to all to stand “hips, trunk, shoulders, arms and head alongside anyone you want to mention."
BRIAN ALDISS first made reference to the passing Boardman, "A nice guy. You'd never know he was a publisher, would you?" He had wondered what to do and say, continued Aldiss, intending to prepare a feast for the gathering. He had been thinking of admitting to being Kyril Bonfiglioli but then he had turned up, he had thought about giving the low-down on an estimable professional sitting amongst the audience, about what really happened to the old manuscripts submitted to Ted Carnell, how a famous Hollywood monster is to publish the Forry Ackerman Magazine, why Fred Pohl has the British edition of Galaxy delivered via the North Pole - in a rowing boat, about Mike Moorcock…."No, I couldn't tell you about him ….", why Harry Harrison has had to leave Denmark, why Arthur C. Clarke has had to stay in Ceylon,…but, said Aldiss, Harry Harrison gave the same talk at Birmingham. Instead Aldiss reviewed the changes in sf since the last London World Convention, in 1957.
At that time, said Aldiss, the dominant mood was still embodied in the paranoiac stories of the type written by A.E. van Vogt, in which the hero is the victim of a worldwide conspiracy, but in the end he licked the lot of them. Asimov was somewhat similar but his hero would undergo a loss of identity and a loss of memory. He would still go on to lick the lot. Orwell reversed this, although his story was still basically that of van Vogt. Here the hero underwent the loss of identity at the end of the story.
Nowadays there are other, perhaps more healthy problems. We have the satire of Vonnegut and the "inner space" of Ballard. The space is objective, said Aldiss, but man is more and more in the centre. These are stories of man reacting upon his environment rather than the environment reacting upon man. Also today, Aldiss continued, we are now in the age of the common spaceman. He parodied a recent earth to satellite conversation in which an astronaut had been talking to his wife. "How are you?" "I'm fine, honey. How are you?'' ''I'm fine, honey, just fine." "And how are the kids?" "They're fine, too." As you see, Aldiss remarked drily, the age of the common spaceman.
He had been, he went on, recently looking up a copy of a 1955 Galaxy - which had just arrived in this country - and he quoted a descriptive passage in which stars appear as holes in a black, velvet curtain, commenting that the oratory of ten years ago seems humorous today, “like the works of Henry James - but funny.” This makes for better SF, Aldiss said, for we must change with changing conditions.
All this, he concluded, was the speech he had prepared, which he had been rehearsing naked in front of a full length mirror. However, he now realised that he was unable to give the speech he really had intended to give, for John Brunner had given it the day before.
OVERHEARD IN A HOTEL LIFT, a super-automatic piece of machinery whose every press button seemed to possess a will of its own: This is just like being trapped in pinball machine.
TAFF DELEGATE TERRY CARR was introduced by Tom Boardman who explained briefly the organisational workings of the Transatlantic Fan Fund. Terry Carr suggested that a speech should preferably commence, with a humorous anecdote as an audience hook. He had one lined up, he said, and had actually been telling to someone during the afternoon, at which time he had suddenly found that he had forgotten the punchline. This is what the convention was doing to him. A convention, he said, combines the House of Lords, a circus, the Association of Antiquarian Beekeepers - though he had never seen an antiquarian bee - and a Roman orgy. But oh to be in England now that it is worldcon time, he said. He had seen committee members rushing about as though they were going to a meeting with the Red Queen. Ella Parker, he added. He had seen editors looking for new talent, huckster's hawking, neofen talking, old timers sitting in corners and talking of the good old days and Polton Cross, and the Hugo nominees, the Hugonauts, sweating and just waiting to get to the presentation of the awards. He then went on to announce that the nomination period for candidates in the TAFF campaign to send a winner to the 1966 Worldcon was now open and that it would close on 1st December. Voting would then continue until a 13th April deadline
ARTHUR C. CLARKE followed, entitling his talk, “ How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Stanley Kubrick." He had been commissioned to write a book about space for Time-Life and had met Kubrick in New York with the idea of an epic space film on the lines of How The Solar System Was Won. Kubrick had bought five of his short stories but had eventually settled upon only one, whereby Clarke immediately bought back the remaining four at a thousand dollars apiece. The provisional title of the film, "Journey Beyond the Stars" had now been changed to "2001 - The Space Odyssey," with the screenplay by Kubrick and Clarke, based upon a novel by Clarke and Kubrick. It is difficult showing convincing extraterrestrials, said Clarke, and it was not true that Peter Sellers was going to play them all. ''Though Peter was willing," he added. The film will be shot in Cinerama and if a month's scheduled shooting takes place as planned next spring, at which time will also appear the book (which is not yet finished), then the film should be released around Christmas 1966. Clarke said that he hoped it would become the contemporary space travel film, the Destination Moon of the 1970's. In closing he held up a nail from the Bounty and a piece of the heat shield from the Apollo space craft. These were, he explained thoughtfully, two artefacts with less than 200 years between them.
THE PROGRAMME’S PROMISED MYSTERY SPEAKER turned out to be Robert Bloch, much to the delight of the assembly. "I'm so pleased to be here today in... er," Bloch began, referring to a card, "London." He said that he was feeling a little drunk - ''George 0. Smith breathed on me" - and mentioned that he was in London to make a new film, "Mary Poppins Meets the Wolfman." But it's nice to be here, Bloch said. It’s nice to see Karen Anderson, and What's His Name. And John Campbell, "whose editorials I've been ghost writing for years." He said that he had had a rough trip over. He hadn't realised just how rough it had been until he saw the captain heave the anchor, and he’d also had an accident with his luggage when the port feIl out. He'd seen Westminster Abbey, the poor man's Forest Lawn, and had visited the Tower of London, though there he'd been disappointed. He'd wanted to see a Beefeater and had found himself talking to a vegetarian. Back at the hotel, he said, someone had come up to him and had asked for money to the Willis Fund. "But how can I be sure," he'd asked, "that this money will get to Willis?” "You can be sure of it," he’d been told, "l am Willis." Bloch went on to talk about some of his relatives. “Relatives run in my family,” he said, "Especially when they see me coming.” For example there was his cousin Mildred. “He’s a nice, fellow," said Bloch, telling of the time Mildred had had his spine removed and had had to be taken home in a bucket. He was, he concluded, very glad that he'd come. “I’ve made my peace with God,” he said. "He surrendered two weeks ago.” Quite a talk.
FORRY ACKERMAN spoke about the Big Heart Award, saying that after the death of E. Everett Evans certain individuals had got together to honour those who work in fandom is often left unrecognised. He spoke of previous winners, Rick Sneary, Bjo Trimble, James Taurasi and Sam Moskowitz. This year, he said, the award is being made to someone at this side of the Atlantic. Although, Ackerman said, there, is no particular fandom in Italy or in France, there is a considerable fandom in Germany and there is one man who has done more than any other for German fandom, a man whose heart is so large that it embraces East Germany as well as West Germany. He called upon the Award’s first recipient, Bob Bloch, to make the award to Walter Ernsting, the "Father of German SF." In doing so Bloch said briefly, "Don’t do as I did - pawn it." Ernsting said that he was too overcome with emotion to make a speech. "This is a big surprise," he said, "and my heart is too full. And when my heart is great, then my mouth is small." He thanked those presenting the award for recognising German fandom and said that he felt that the Award was given to German fandom rather than to himself personally.
THE SPEECHES had at this point been running for exactly one hour, and it was now time to present the Hugo Awards for the best and most able sf, of the past year. Robert Silverberg, who said it was both an honour and a pleasure to have the task of presenting the Hugos then gave one of the most humorous speeches of the weekend, this humour depending entirely upon his manner of delivery. He first spoke of the agonies of Isaac Asimov who two years before had been in a similar position and who at the time had mentioned that he had never won a Hugo. As he had made presentation after presentation Asimov had grown gloomier and gloomier. He had wrestled a little with the Award winners, trying to take from them their statuettes, and as the presentations had progressed Asimov's anguish had grown and grown. Then finally he had come to the last sealed envelope. He had torn it open and had found his own name.
"I have my Hugo," Silverberg said." It is a little smaller than this one here. But it's a nice Hugo. I like my Hugo." The delivery here, with a pause between each sentence, was perfect. Silverberg's Hugo, he explained was presented in 1956 for "The Most Promising New Author." Brian Aldiss had won a similar Award in 1959, but as this category had since been discontinued he supposed that Aldiss was still the most promising author in SF. He remembered, he said, the evening when he was awarded a Hugo, how suspense had mounted and how he could not eat the meal because of his wanting to come to the Awards. He had remembered Arthur Clarke discussing the future history of the world and how his own torment had mounted as Arthur progressed through the 1960’s and 1970's. "You can imagine how I felt by the time Arthur reached 2953," Silverberg said. But, he continued, he would not keep the present award winners in suspense any longer. "I have the names right here in this envelope," he announced 'turning out his pockets one by one as he searched for it. Eventually he found it and waved it about…slowly. The envelope was marked, Silverberg said, "Top secret. Destroy before reading." Very deliberately, Silverberg opened the envelope. “Here are the winners’ names,” he said. "Oh, that reminds me." He had asked Ella Parker what he should do if he personally did not approve of the names on the sheet, but he had promised to read them faithfully. Silverberg then made the presentations of the Hugo Awards, the full details of the voting being as follows:
BEST SHORT STORY:
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION:
Peter George, on whose novel, Red Alert, the film Dr. Strangelove was based, was awarded the drama Hugo, the only award of this year’s seven to remain in this country.
OVERHEARD: It was like opening the Daily Mail and discovering that Carol Day had run off with Rip Kirby.
TED WHITE, Assistant Editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & SF spoke on "How to Plot Your Way Out Of A Paper Bag," saying that his title came from a remark that J. G. Ballard could not plot his way out of a paper bag. There seems to be an element in sf who are simply not able to plot. They are reactionary. Whilst they look to the future they stick to twentieth century writing. We seem to abound in writers who do not know their craft and who seem to be filling especially the British magazines with “stories which start nowhere and go nowhere." White agreed that it is time for a "new look in sf," something exposes the inner consciousness, though he admitted that every time he heard mentioned Ballard’s name he thought of' Philip K. Dick who has been doing the same thing longer and better, for a lengthy period of time exploring schizophrenia and other realms of unreality. It is nothing new, White suggested, to peg a story upon psychological cases, citing Raymond Chandler as one who was writing such stories at a time when Sf was in its infancy. There is a tendency, White continued, for SF to copy mainstream fiction, but mainstream fiction is by its very definition very limited, (White defined mainstream fiction as any which could not otherwise be readily classified, something which did not fit into any category of genre fiction). Mainstream fiction is merely the same story over and over again, the story of John and his wife, both of whom live down the street. White said that he read for entertainment therefore he demanded a good, rousing story. SF could provide entertainment for him if it so wished for it had its root in the adventure of the pulps. And it was adventure that he wanted, White said, adventure in its broadest terms, giving as an example Tolkien's sweep and scope. This, he said, is adventure. "Let us not lose sight of the fact," said White, "that we are story tellers, not preachers and not psychotherapists.”
FROM CRADLE TO COLLECTOR was the title of the Sunday evening panel which featured as Moderator Ted Carnell (the weekend's best co-ordinator of opinion) who was more than ably supported by authors Jack Williamson and Fred Pohl, Tribune critic Doug Hill, Mayflower Books buyer John Watson, reader Chris Priest, publisher Ron Whiting and Penguin Books editor Tony Richardson. The panel mainly discussed various aspects of reviewing and the manner in which reviews affect sales. Ron Whiting said that a bad review was not as detrimental as one might think, saying that it was better to be talked about in such a manner than not being talked about at all. He would like to see, however, more than a mere small box at the bottom of a page devoted to sf. He pleaded for more constructive reviewing and asked that a reviewer did not simply seize upon one small bad point and base his review upon that. Jack Williamson said that poor reviews could have their compensation. He recalled that one of his books had been panned as "a space comic strip.” He had been immediately contacted and commissioned to write a space comic strip which had run for three years! Frederik Pohl said that all SF could expect in most papers was the small boxed reviews and that it was only in the SF magazines that one could hope to meet understanding. He deplored the one word reviews given in most papers and mentioned that he had once seen a box review of a Horace Gold book labeled merely 'Good.' The following week the same book had been, because of a lack of memory, reviewed again. This time it had been Iabelled ‘Terrible.' Pohl also expressed the opinion that too many writers write for other writers and for reviewers rather than for the readers. Tony Richardson said that only rarely do reviews have any effect upon editorial policy for usually he sees material direct from hardcover publishers before the books are published and reviewed. Richardson also felt that SF should be reviewed by someone with a special sympathy for the genre. Often, he said, the point of the book was missed completely by a mainstream reviewer. Chris Priest said that the fan saw the whole spectrum of reviews, from Amis to the fanzines but that the fanzines could not be taken as a true criterion because of one-author prejudices. Doug Hill pointed out that a reviewer is not a critic. He spoke of his own approach to reviewing, mentioning that he keeps in mind a picture of a young reader, probably a student, who would wish to get the best value for his two-and-six.
THE REVIVAL CEREMONY of The Most Noble and Illustrious Order of St. Fantony which took place on the Sunday evening suffered somewhat from lack of rehearsal but as this was the first meeting of the Order for some eight years and as Knights and Ladies had gathered from the far flung reaches this was both understandable and excusable. One nominated knight, who shall, in order to avoid embarrassment, remain unnamed, failed the strict initiation test but the Order was pleased to elevate into its ranks the following honoured worthies: Ethel Lindsay, Ken Bulmer, Ted Carnell, Ken Cheslin, Dick Eney, Harry Nadler, Phil Rogers, Tom Schluck and Tony Walsh. BSFA Librarian Joe Navin was also nominated but was unable to attend the Convention.
THE OFFICIAL BUSINESS MEETING OF THE TWENTY-THIRD WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION began at 10.45 on the Monday morning with only some sixty attendees present, though this number grew somewhat as the meeting proceeded. Dave Kyle, the principal speaker on behalf of the Syracuse bid for the 1966 Worldcon, asked the audience to give Syracuse its chance. Was the TriCon (the United three mid-west cities) afraid of competition? he asked. He asked for fair play and a ballot returned on fair competition and not on default. This proposal, for Syracuse to be able to put in a bid, had to be made under the strict terms of the Convention siting's Rotation Plan which otherwise would automatically award the 1966 siting to Tricon, Syracuse bidding, as it were, out of turn. Ben Jason, speaking for Tricon, said that he did not wish to oppose the Syracuse bid. Accordingly, both sides were immediately able to state their respective cases and the ballot was taken, resulting in the extremely narrow win for TriCon, as follows: Tricon 60 votes, Syracuse 49 votes, The Virgin Islands 1 vote, Vienna 1 vote, No vote 1 vote.
The Meeting was then handed over to Parliamentarian George Scithers who, for some two hours, chaired the discussion on suggestions to be made to the Hugo Awards Committee.
Dave Kyle spoke on the First Fandom organisation and paid tribute to founder member Don Ford, who died earlier this year.
THE MAN ON A WHITE HORSE was the title of the Monday afternoon panel which was moderated by Charles E. Smith and which featured Rolf Gindorf, John W. Campbell Jr., Mike Moorcock, Joe Patrizio and John Brunner. Campbell said that every theory man has ever formulated has proved wrong and that the pragmatic view must be taken. We should ask "Will it work?" Joe Patrizio asked whether this would reveal the truth. What is true? he asked. Many stories are written, he said, in which man reacts against what is thought to be true. Campbell repeated that we must ask "Will it work?” Brunner emphatically disagreed, saying that we should ask, “Will it work well?” Brunner said that slavery works but that it is very inefficient, also making the point that if man has no more than territorial instinct, as a sparrow chasing others from its nest, then he is not qualified to be the master of this planet. Campbell countered with a plea for unorthodox ideas, saying that orthodox ideas have plenty of opportunities.
PROJECT ART SHOW provided a treat of all types of
modern sf and fantasy artwork, the worst items on
show being extremely good. Judges Don Wollheim,
John Brunner, Ted Forsyth and Tom Schluck awarded
the prizes as follows: Best SF Illustration: 1.
Eddie Jones "At the. Tips." 2. Jack Wilson "The
CONVENTION SNIPPETS: Con membership was c. 650, attendance c. 350 (reported on BBC as 400) ::: Saturday's auction realized £28.17s, Sunday's £51. 17s. 1d ::: Auctioneers were Ted Forsyth, Phil Rogers, Lang Jones, Charles Smith ::: Room parties were the swingingest ever and were often sponsored by groups or given for groups, First Fandom (the Rosenblums), TAFF, St Fantony amongst them. For their party TriCon bought £60's worth of beer. Brag parties were thrown by Dick Eney and Phil Rogers. At one party I saw Joni Stopa drink a whole bottle of whisky in one draught ::: Ted White's talk began 6 minutes early ::: Actor Christopher Lee was present and how near the Rolling Stones group came to attending we shall probably never know ::: Press coverage was appalling, the Sunday Times naming Miss Fay Parker as Chairman ::: Names from Fandoms Past abounded, amongst them Doug Webster, Julian Parr, James Parkhill Rathbone, Laurence Sandfield, Chuck Harris, Tony Glynn, Tony Klein and Bill Harry ::: This issue is dedicated to the dedicated people, namely the convention committee of Ella Parker, Ethel Lindsay, Jim Groves, Peter Mabey, Keith Otter and George Scithers who were responsible for such a fabulous weekend. Many, many thanks.