Tag Archives: conventions

[March 19, 1962] A convention of a different colour (Eastercon in the UK)


By Ashley R. Pollard

Last month I said I would talk about science fiction fan activity in Britain.  I think it only fair to say that my involvement with British science fiction fandom is peripatetic, as in unsettled, as I lack the stamina to be fully involved with fannish behaviour.  Not a bad thing per se, but not my cup of tea.  As such, I’m all too aware that my account of British Eastercons is rather secondhand, as I haven’t been to one for several years.

Furthermore, I’m not a Big Name Fan, because I stand at a distance from the core of those who move and shake the mores of fandom.  One could argue that I’m an old time fan who has gafiated from fandom, getting away from it all, since I rarely participate in fannish activities per se.  Before you jump to the conclusion that I therefore must be a sercon fan, serious and constructive, I should add I’m not that either.  For me the word FIJAGH says it all: fandom is just a goddam hobby.  It sums up my position perfectly

With those caveats in place let me talk about the British national science fiction convention.

The first thing I should state is that Eastercons are a relatively recent thing, which started seven years ago in 1955.  How time flies.  The first national SF convention was held in London in 1948, and called Whitcon, because it was held over the three-day weekend of Whitsun. 

For my American readers who may be unfamiliar with British Bank Holidays, Whitsun takes place seven weekends after Easter, my understanding is that in America it comes under the Pentecostal tradition.  You’ll excuse me if I’m a bit vague about Christian practices; they’re not my thing despite being brought up in a nominally Christian family.  We were what might be called Christians by default.  A very British thing that may not be fully understandable to those looking from outside of British culture.

The next four national SF conventions were also held in London before the convention moved in 1954 to Manchester.  By this time the number of people attending had started to drop precipitously, which caused quite a furore within fandom about what must be done?  With, people like Ken Slater and Vince Clarke, arguing that British fandom needed reinvigorating.

Resulting, though that implies far more causation for something that is mostly a loosely correlated series of events, in the formation of the BSFA in 1958 with Eric Bentcliffe and Terry Jeeves as joint secretaries.  So in 1959 the newly formed British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) took over running the national convention, which now takes place over the four-day Easter weekend.

This years Eastercon will happen on April 22nd, and is being held in Harrogate, which is in North Yorkshire.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend, due to the combination of a lack of time and money preventing me from doing so.

The official name is the rather prosaic The 1962 BSFA Easter Convention, the committee running the convention is made up of Ron Bennett and Phil Rogers.  They are the ones in charge of organizing the events during the weekend.  The fans are calling it Ronvention.

I’m told there are 94 fans going to Ronvention, which is split between the West Park and Clarendon hotels.  The West Park will be the venue for the Fancy Dress party, the theme being favourite characters from SF &F books; the BSFA will hold its AGM there to discuss what to do with the money raised for the Doc Weir Memorial Fund to honour him; and finally there will be a film shown there too.  Meanwhile everything else, like quizzes, an auction and a talk on the development of British fandom by Mike Rosenblum will take place at the Clarendon hotel.

Mr. Tom Boardman, of Boardman Books, is the Guest of Honour.  He edits the popular Mayflower SF series, which was one of the earliest publishers of SF in post-war Britain.  And, in addition to his work as editor and publisher, he also reviews SF for Books & Bookmen, a magazine published by Hansom Books.

Also attending is Ron Ellik, travelling from the USA courtesy of the Trans Atlantic Fan Fund.  This is a fan fund whose title says exactly what it does.  The roots of the fund lay in Forrest J Ackerman’s idea called the Big Pond Fund that eventually brought John Carnell to the American Worldcon in 1949.  This morphed into what is now known as TAFF when Walt Willis went to the 1953 Worldcon, and wrote a report about his travelling around America, which he published in his fanzine, Hyphen.

In addition to an American presence at Ronvention, I’m told that German fans Tom Schluck, Rolf Gindorf, Wolfgang Thadewald, Thea Grade, Horst Margeit, and Guntrum Ohmacht will be coming to demonstrate that the best way to get into a Britain is to come to as fans.

And lest you find yourself wondering if UK conventions be greatly different from American ones, fear not.  You will still encounter the masquerade balls, the awards ceremonies, the huckster sales, the vociferous fannish debates, and yes, the debauchery (though such entertainments lie in my past).

Before finishing this month’s article I must thank my good friend Rob Hansen for his help with collating all the fannish information I’ve shared with you.  I would have been lost without his sterling work in recording the goings-on in fandom.  That is it for now, which just leaves me to say goodbye, and see you all again next month.

[March 5, 1962] Exotic Blend (Condor: a San Diego SFF convention)


by Gideon Marcus

Science fiction fans are a rare breed.  Consider that even the most widely distributed science fiction monthly, Analog, has just 200,000 readers.  Compare that to the 180 million folks living in America.  That’s about one in a thousand.  If you come from a midlin’-sized city of, say, 50,000, there are just 50 of your kind in town.  It can feel pretty lonely, especially in our rather conservative land.

That’s why we have science fiction conventions.  For a brief, shining weekend, the density of fans goes from .1% to 100% (except for the occasional stranger who wanders dazedly into the hotel or hall in which the event is held).  It is a rare opportunity to exchange ideas, fanzines, gossip.  We buy and sell our specialized goods.  We wear outlandish costumes.  We drink a bit too much, and we occasionally commit acts that we probably won’t tell our parents or kids about.

Welcome to Condor, San Diego’s home-grown science fiction gathering.  We had many dozen attendees from throughout Southern California, a gathering that rivaled the famed Worldcon in size.  They ranged from the very young to the venerable, and they came in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders.  It truly was a fine cross-section of the best humanity has to offer.

Of course, the Journey presented, this time on the notable events in science fact and fiction of 1961.  We had an excellent, engaged audience, and I hope y’all will correspond with us by post until we can meet again. 

We were also asked to speak on the burgeoning field of Japanese animation, which is just starting to become known about in the United States.  World travelers are still comparatively rare, so we were able to share the knowledge we have garnered over many trips across the Pacific (blessedly, we now can travel by jet plane – much faster than the prop planes we used to fly in).

Other panels we attended included one on the latest discoveries in astronomy (including discussions of the latest planned probe to Venus), a couple of writing workshops, and an interesting class on painting — in which the Young Traveler transitioned with ease between student and instructor. 

The Exhibits Hall not only had a delightful art gallery, but there were the usual myriad dealers hawking their wares.  I was particularly excited to pick up a few back magazines and recent paperbacks I’d missed.

And here is a new friend, who makes the most interesting things with those crochet hooks…

There were several attendees who weren’t in costume:

And, of course, a fair number who were:

It really was a fabulous time, and I am sad that it comes but once a year.  But then, that’s why other cities hold conventions…

[Oct. 10, 1961] On the Edge of Tomorrow (Geek Girl Con… 2016?)


by Gideon Marcus

Seattle, one of my favorite towns, is about to become big news for it will be the home of the 1962 World Expo, and its futuristic “Space Needle” is under construction.  When it’s done, the city’s skyline will be distinctive, indeed!

But that’s not what brought us to the Emerald City in 1961.  In fact, we fly out each year to visit my sister-in-law and the dozen or so friends we’ve accumulated from visits past.  It is, if course, complete coincidence that our trips always seem to coincide with the annual gathering of female fandom affectionately nicknamed “Geek Girl Con.

Much smaller than the World Con held in Seattle just last month, it nevertheless is a tremendously fun event.  The dozens of attendees are passionate about their genre and deeply intellectual.  At any hour of the day, one might engage in a variety of discussions: on how to break into the pro market, the best techniques of illustration, the travesty of modern science fiction film.  I found myself at the center of one of these impromptu colloquia Sunday afternoon, opining on the current state of science fiction and fantasy and making tentative prophecies of the far future 55 years hence.

I brought my new color film camera, and for those who couldn’t attend (and those who just want to see themselves), please enjoy the following gallery:

First, the (more or less) conventionally dressed attendees:

Some good friends:

Here are the Hicks’, creators of adorable Gothic-monster themed art.

Here’s the radiant Beth, who we met at a similar gathering some four years ago!  She’s very up on the British sf scene.

And here’s The Journey’s very own Erica Frank, imperturbable copy editor and expert of things fannish!

This being a science fiction gathering, there was a good deal of technical tinkery in the works:

And, of course, the highlight of the event was the masquerade ball!

A trio of Peter Pan costumes!

Cinderella and her step-sisters!

Medieval and Renaissance costumes were popular…

As were uniforms from the War:

All in all, it was yet another tremendous time.  I do hope that all of my new friends will drop me a line.  Let’s stay in touch until next October!

[September 6, 1961] The 1961 Hugos!


by Gideon Marcus

It’s that time of the year, again, when hundreds of sf fans (or ‘fen’) converge from around the world.  Their goal is not just to converse upon matters science and fictiony, but to determine the genre’s brightest stars.  Yes, it’s Hugo time!

This year, some three hundred fen gathered in Seattle Hyatt House Hotel for the 19th Annual WorldCon (appropriately dubbed “SeaCon” this year) over Labor Day weekend.  Wally Weber organized the shindig, and the silver/acid-tongued Harlan Ellison served as Toastmaster.  It’s a convention I should have, by all rights, been able to have attended given my frequent travels to that jewel city of the Northwest.  A family wedding got in the way, however, so details of this, the year’s most important sf fan event, had to be gotten second-hand.  Luckily, I got them via phone and some photos via ‘fax for you all to enjoy!


Sam Moskowitz on the far left, Alan Nourse’s back to us, then Poul Anderson; I can make out Robert Heinlein and Doc Smith in the back in profile; the fellow with the striped shirt is fan Ed Wood (not the director)

The guest of honor was the great Robert Heinlein, who gave a doom n’ gloom speech about how he thought a good third of the population would soon be dead from wars and survivalist raids (or perhaps from boredom trying to get through his latest book). 


all pictures from fanac

As usual, there was a Masquerade Ball, with attendees sporting outlandish, sf-themed costumes:


Stu Hoffman and Sylvia Dees


Joni Cornell, Superfan Forrest Ackerman, and a fan I don’t recognize


Ellie Turner and Karen Anderson


Bill Warren as The Invisible Man

There was a Dealer’s Hall where hucksters, amateur and professional, sold their wares.  There was also an art show with some lovely pieces on display.

But most importantly, for the purposes of this article, at least, the attendees of SeaCon exercised their solemn right to choose the best genre titles for the year 1960.  Let’s look at what they decided and how their choices compare to the ones I gave at the end of last year.

Best Novel

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller [J. B. Lippincott, 1959]

Nominees

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson [Astounding Jul,Aug,Sep 1960]

Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys [F&SF Dec 1960]

Deathworld by Harry Harrison [Astounding Jan,Feb,Mar 1960]

Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon [Pyramid, 1960]

My three favorites made the list, as well as Sturgeon’s book (which, if not amazing, was certainly innovative) and Budrys’ short novel, first published in F&SF.  Apparently, a number of fans felt it should have won the prize.  I, personally, found it to be the one entry that didn’t deserve to be here.

Short Fiction

The Longest Voyage by Poul Anderson [Analog Dec 1960]

Nominees

The Lost Kafoozalum by Pauline Ashwell [Analog Oct 1960]

Open to Me, My Sister by Philip José Farmer [F&SF May 1960]

Need by Theodore Sturgeon [Beyond, 1960]


Poul Anderson and his Hugo

Of course, my presentation is a bit different – I break down my short fiction into smaller categories.  Anderson’s story wasn’t a finalist in my novella category, but I did give it four stars.  I’m very glad to see that the Ashwell (which was a finalist for a Galactic Star) was in close contention for the Hugo.  I hated the Farmer (though, I suppose, that’s a matter of taste), and I never read the Sturgeon.  I wasn’t aware that Beyond was back in print; it died back in 1955.

Best Dramatic Presentation

The Twilight Zone (TV series) by Rod Serling [CBS]

Nominees

Village of the Damned [MGM] Directed by Wolf Rilla; Written by Stirling Silliphant and Wolf Rilla and Ronald Kinnoch

The Time Machine [Galaxy Films/MGM] Directed by George Pal; Screenplay by David Duncan; based on the novel by H. G. Wells

Once again, The Twilight Zone gets the prize.  I would have given it to George Pal’s film, though to be fair, I haven’t seen Village.

Best Professional Magazine

Astounding Science Fiction ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr.

Nominees

Amazing Science Fiction Stories ed. by Cele Goldsmith

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ed. by Robert P. Mills

I suppose this isn’t too surprising.  While I feel F&SF was better than Analog last year, the difference was not tremendous.  As for Amazing, well, I’m not qualified to judge.  It’s not currently among my subscriptions.

Best Professional Artist

Ed Emshwiller

Nominees

Virgil Finlay

Frank Kelly Freas

Mel Hunter

(This is virtually the same list as last year!)

Best Fanzine

Who Killed Science Fiction? a one shot edited by Earl Kemp got the Hugo this year.  The rules were promptly changed so that, in the future, one-shots won’t be eligible.

Nominees

Discord ed. by Redd Boggs

Fanac ed. by Terry Carr and Ron Ellik

Yandro ed. by Robert Coulson and Juanita Coulson

Habakkuk ed. by Bill Donaho

Shangri L’Affaires ed. by Bjo Trimble and John Trimble

As usual, I don’t read the ‘zines (who has time), but I do tip my hat to the Trimbles, whom I met at a convention earlier this year, and who are the nicest people. 

Of course, I’m always hopeful that my ‘zine will someday win a Hugo.  Perhaps next year, with your help, it shall!

[August 29, 1961] Surprise party (Escondido’s “Nerd Con”)


by Gideon Marcus

My, what a pleasant surprise this weekend turned out to be!  The group known as the North Escondido Rarities Devotees (NERD) put on a little gathering at a local venue.  It was supposed to be an informal party, but attendance ended up over several dozen!  It was essentially a little convention — NERD-CON, if you will.  It looks as if there are far more weirdoes in my town than I thought… 

I met a lot of wonderful people.  There was Angel, the flautist; Chris, the camera collector; Jay, the photographer; and many, many more.  The highlight of the event (for me, anyway, and perhaps a few others) was my hour-long presentation.  I talked about the state of science fiction, and which of our current predictions might become future realities.  It was something of a Mort Sahl stand-up routine, and by the end of it, I was both elated and exhausted. 

I can’t wait to do it again!

If there is anything that unites us fans beyond an abiding love for the genre (one charming fellow buttonholed me to discuss the comparative virtues of Space Opera legend, Doc Smith, versus the offerings of today), it is our love of dressing up in bizarre costumes.  I’ve developed my film and hereby devote the rest of this article to the outrageous cast of characters that brightened up my weekend.


Trotting out an old dress.  Her name was “Peggy”


I think their names were “Cheryl” and “Pam”


Local belly dancing troupe


The Man of Steel


Snow White


His name was “Milo”


Representative for the Western Science Center.  Called herself “Brittney” (which must have been some kind of pseudonym)


Aladdin and Peter Pan!


An Aztec jaguar warrior!


Mrs. and Mr. Traveler at the station.

I look forward to seeing all of my new friends in the near future.  Drop me a line!  I’d love to hear from you.

[July 24, 1961] COMIC CON 1961!

by Gideon Marcus

1961 has definitely been a fine year for fan gatherings, thus far.  It doesn’t seem like a month goes by without one fan circle or another throwing a science fiction convention.  Some are tiny affairs, little more than an expanded club meeting.  Others, like WorldCon (coming up in a little over a month, in Seattle), clock in attendances of several hundreds.  It’s a great way to pass the time, learn inside dope on the doings of fans and writers, alike, and it sure beats the Summer reruns!

I’ve just come back from “Comic Con,” a San Diego convention of considerable size.  A good many notables from both the comics and science fiction genres were there including Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee and Allen Bellman (he drew Captain America during the Golden Years), D.C.’s Ramona Fradon (Aquaman), superfans Trina Robbins, Bjo Trimble and John Trimble, and Twilight Zone actor William Shatner (who you may recall from the excellent episode, “Nick of Time”). 

There were at least a hundred fans there, many of them in costume.  Guarding us all was the U.S.S. Midway, a modern aircraft carrier:

For your viewing pleasure, here are all the shots I managed to snap before my Kodak ran out of film:

Conventions, for me, are a place to meet folks and share my love of things scientifictional.  I’m hoping the friendships I made there will last a good long time.  See you next year…1962!  (Drop me a line if you’d like an original photograph…)

[March 2, 1961] Presenting… and Concluding (ConDor and March 1961 IF)


At ConDor, a local gathering of science fiction fans, my wife and I led a panel on the state of the genre, particularly how our s-f digests are doing.  Their boom began in 1949 and peaked in 1953, when there were nearly 40 in publication.  That number is down to less than 10, and many are (as usual) predicting the end of the fun. 

While it is true that the volume of production is down, I argued that the quality is up…or at least evolving.  I used Galaxy’s sister magazine IF as an example.  IF pays its writers less than Galaxy, and it is a sort of training ground for new blood.  Fred Pohl, the magazine’s shadow editor, also prints more unusual stories there.  As a result, the magazine’s quality is highly variable, but the peaks tend to be interesting.

Sadly, this month’s IF is chock full of valleys.  You win some, you lose some.  Still, for the sake of completeness, here’s my review; as always, your mileage may vary!

IF has a tradition of leading the magazine with its best stories, but IOU, by Edward Wellen, is an exception.  The premise is promising: it’s about a future in which people can buy custom experiences, to be lived out upon dying to simulate the appearance of going to Heaven.  It’s dull as dirt, however, and I ended up skimming the last 10 pages or so.  That automatically makes it a one-star story.  Perhaps you can tell me what I’m missing.

Then there’s Jim Harmon’s February Strawberries.  When a man brings his wife (most of the way) back to life, is it a technological horror or a paranoid delusion?  Macabre and second-rate, it reads like an inferior episode of The Twilight Zone.  Two stars.

Minotaur, by Gordy Dickson, is pretty effective.  A one-man scout ship happens upon a ghost cruiser in the vastness of space.  Its crew is missing, as is its cargo of zoological specimens.  I liked the spooky atmosphere, and I’m a sucker for spaceship stories, but the end is a little pat.  Three stars.

Sylvia Jacobs is back, but her second IF effort isn’t much better than her first.  Strike that.  Young Man from Elsewhen, about a crippled, bitter old man, and the deal he makes with a time traveling dandy, is very well written; it’s just that there are no twists or turns from Point A to Point B.  Two stars.

The first tale from Julian F. Grow, The Fastest Gun Dead, is a good one.  Westerns are still popular on the airwaves, and this story, featuring a sawbones, an unsavory shopkeeper, and an alien supergun, shows that the milieu has legs in our genre, too.  Gun is also marred by a too-cute ending, but I think Grow has a real shot at growing into a fine author.  Three stars.

Max Williams’ The Seeder, is almost too short, and certainly too hackneyed to describe.  R.A. Lafferty’s pleasantly whimsical In the Garden, about a starship crew that stumbles upon the second Garden of Eden, almost garnered four stars…until the last line.  Le sigh.

The issue closes with The Well of the Deep Wish by Lloyd Biggle Jr.  It is the best of the bunch, a thoughtful piece showing us the world of television production in a post-apocalyptic, subterranean future.  Three stars.

Thus, the March 1961 IF meters in at a disappointing 2.25 stars.  This explains why it took me so long to get through it!

Crunching the numbers on the Star-o-Meter 2000, we have a surprising winner for March 1961: Analog!  F&SF was just a sliver behind, however, and both were head and shoulders over IF.  All told, there were 21 stories, two of which were written by women, one of those being my favorite of the month: Zenna Henderson’s Return

Stay tuned for a new batch of magazines, a new Frederic Brown novel, and a whole lot more…and a hearty wave to a few new fan friends that I met over the weekend: David Gerrold, John and Bjo Trimble, and Dorothy Fontana.

[Oct. 12, 1960] For the Girls (a mini-convention in Seattle)

There’s no question about it–conventions are here to stay.

Remember the first “Worldcon,” when a whopping nine fans (all men) showed up in New York?  Now the annual event always draws hundreds of attendees, and I suspect someday soon it will break the thousand-fan barrier.  Since the War, a number of regional conventions have also sprung up: Westercon, Boskone, Eastercon, Disclave, Midwestcon, Lunacon…

And those are just the big formal ones.  There are plenty of smaller events–irregular gatherings associated with local clubs or movements. 

One that I’ve enjoyed over the past several years is a little Seattle event run by a gang of highly motivated and talented female fans.  These are ladies who have seen the 90/10 split between male and female authors (on a good day) and want to see things improve.  As always, the shindig was a great opportunity to engage in intellectual discussions, meet like-minded fans, and learn about up-and-coming female science fiction and fantasy talents.

Perhaps the most valuable episode, for me, was a group conversation regarding liking and recommending fiction that contains troubling elements.  For instance, what do you do when your favorite author includes demeaning depictions of certain races in her/his story?  Or when a creator turns out to be a horrible person in private life?  To what length can you diassociate yourself from the bad parts to continue enjoying the good?  And do you mention the bad bits when recommending the works to your friends?  Do you not recommend them at all?  It’s a highly nuanced issue.

In the end, the consensus was that everybody has their breaking point (for me and Randall Garrett, for instance, it was Queen Bee), but up to that point, we can enjoy what we enjoy without feeling guilt.  If something really bothers us, we can write letters to the authors and editors and urge them to alter their practices.  And when it comes to recommendations, honesty is the best policy.  Even if you worry that mentioning some teensy-weensy little thing will poison someone’s perception of an entire work, it is important that: 1) the recommendee know what s/he is getting into, and 2) that it is understood that you are not blind to the troublesome issue.

On that philosophical note, here are some photos from the gathering!

It’s still World War 2 in some places:

(smallsleepingroyal)

Disney remains a perennial source of popular costumes:

Here’s an interesting take on the “Bat-girl”:

And a rather dapper fellow from another era:

Here are some attendees who came in their street clothes (more or less):

There was even a tiny dealer’s hall!

(Becky and James Hicks of Little Vampires; dig their Breakfast at Tiffany’s parody!)

(Crystal of Crystal’s Idyll)

And, of course, yours truly. 

Thanks to all of you lovely people who made our weekend so enjoyable We will be back next year.

Stay tuned: the third Kennedy/Nixon debate is airing tomorrow.  I hope you’ll all join me for this prime-time event so that we can compare notes the next day…

[September 6, 1960] The 1960 WorldCon in Pittsburgh!

The Journey presents that annual assemblage of scientifiction (stf or “steff”) fans known as WorldCon!


all pictures from fanac.org

Of course, I wasn’t actually present at the con, it being held some 2500 miles away on the 17th floor of the Penn Sheraton in Pittsburgh.  But I know people, and I have access to a million-dollar ‘fax machine.  Thus, even though the custodial staff is just barely finishing its sweeping up after some 300 attendees had a roaring great time, I am already able to bring you this report:

The primary purpose for a convention is to allow fellow fen (plural of fan) to mingle.  Gordon Dickson likens it to a Gentleman’s Club where adventurers can meet and compare notes before heading off back into the wild.  Fred Pohl calls it a family gathering. 

It looks like the demographics of fandom match that of publication: women are in the distinct minority, but they are present and often outsizedly significant.

Plenty of professionals attended, too.


Avram Davidson


James Blish


Ed Emshwiller


L. Sprague DeCamp

But it’s not all about chatting up your friends.  The convention offered all sorts of activities including panels, auctions (art, manuscripts, you name it), an art show, a dealers’ hall, and a game room:

Saturday was dress-up day, with plays put on by club members and, of course, the night-time Costume Ball!

But what you’ve likely been waiting for with bated breath is the announcement of the Hugo winners.  I, too, was keenly interested to see how the tastes of the Pittcon-going fans differed from my choices for 1959’s best.  As it turned out, we weren’t too far off:

Best Novel

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein [F&SF Oct,Nov 1959; Putnam, 1959]

Nominees

Dorsai! by Gordon R. Dickson [Astounding May,Jun,Jul 1959]

The Pirates of Ersatz by Murray Leinster [Astounding Feb,Mar,Apr 1959]

That Sweet Little Old Lady by Mark Phillips (aka: Randall Garrett and Laurence M. Janifer) [Astounding Sep,Oct 1959]

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. [Dell, 1959]

I didn’t read a lot of novels in 1959, though I’d have thought Alas, Babylon would have beaten out the Astounding serials, which were 2 and 3 star stories.  I’ll let my readers tell me if the Vonnegut was any good.  I can’t argue with the winner, though.  I liked it a lot.  I understand Bob Heinlein was actually at Pittcon, which is unusual.

Short Fiction

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes [F&SF Apr 1959]

Nominees

The Alley Man by Philip José Farmer [F&SF Jun 1959]

The Pi Man by Alfred Bester [F&SF Oct 1959]

The Man Who Lost the Sea by Theodore Sturgeon [F&SF Oct 1959]

Cat and Mouse by Ralph Williams [Astounding Jun 1959]

Here, the fans and I are in virtually complete agreement.  These are all 4 and 5 star stories, and the Keyes is not only among the best, but it is the longest (the Hugos combine all stories shorter than a novel into one category, whereas I divide them more finely).  I might have excluded the Bester and the Farmer to include McIntosh and Simak, but that’s a quibble.

Best Dramatic Presentation

The Twilight Zone (TV series) by Rod Serling [CBS]

Nominees

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) [HarBel/MGM] Directed by Ranald MacDougall; Screenplay by Ranald MacDougall; Story by Ferdinand Reyher; based on the novel The Purple Cloud by M. P. Shiel

Murder and the Android (Sunday Showcase episode #1.5)

The Turn of the Screw (1959) [NBC] Directed by John Frankenheimer; Teleplay by James Costigan; based on the novel by Henry James

Men into Space (TV series) [CBS, 1959]

This one is interesting.  I think mixing TV and movies creates too broad a category, and the result is MacDougall’s fantastic and progressive The World, the Flesh and the Devil ending up as an also-ran.  Moreover, The Twilight Zone was not even halfway through its first season by close of 1959–not that much to go on.

Still, it is a good (nay, groundbreaking) show, so I’m not complaining too much.

I haven’t seen Murder or TurnMen into Space, while laudable for its attempts to portray realistic space travel, has always been dull as dirt when I’ve tuned in. 

Best Professional Magazine

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ed. by Robert P. Mills

Nominees

Astounding Science Fiction ed. by John W. Campbell, Jr.

Galaxy ed. by H. L. Gold

Amazing Science Fiction Stories ed. by Cele Goldsmith

Fantastic Universe ed. by Cele Goldsmith

They’ll be lucky if they have enough magazines to fill this category next year!  Still, they picked the right “best” even if their #2 was pretty dreadful last year.

Best Professional Artist

Ed Emshwiller

Nominees

Frank Kelly Freas

Virgil Finlay

Mel Hunter

Wally Wood

All of these names should be familiar to you, and I’m not surprised good ol’ Emsh topped the charts again.

Best Fanzine

Cry of the Nameless ed. by F. M. Busby, Elinor Busby, Burnett Toskey and Wally Weber

Nominees

Fanac ed. by Terry Carr and Ron Ellik

Yandro ed. by Robert Coulson and Juanita Coulson

JD-Argassy ed. by Lynn A. Hickman

Science Fiction Times ed. by James V. Taurasi, Sr., Ray Van Houten and Frank R. Prieto, Jr.

I should read the ‘zines, but I don’t.  Ever since Mari Wolf stopped reviewing them, I stopped being interested.  I also have a full dance card as it is.  Nevertheless, the fanzines should not be overlooked–they are a stepping stone to the major leagues, writing-wise, and they also keep the fans in touch between conventions.

So, hats off to the organizing committee for another successful WorldCon!  If you have any personal anecdotes from the convention, please drop me a line.  In the meantime, I’ll get cracking on this month’s Analog.  I’m not ashamed to confess that I emitted a little squeal of delight when I saw that Pauline Ashwell has the lead novella.

[August 22, 1960] If every day were a convention (September 1960 IF)

It’s been a topsy turvy month!  Not only have I been to Japan, but I’ve just gone to yet another new science fiction convention taking place virtually next door (pictures appended below).  Yet, despite all the bustle, I’ve managed to find time for my #1 pasttime: my monthly pile of science fiction/fantasy digests.  And here, at long last, is my review of the September 1960 IF Science Fiction.

As Galaxy‘s lesser sister, its overall quality tends to be a little lower.  There are a couple of stand-outs in this issue that made it a worthy purchase, however.  Moreover, I’m noticing a trend toward the experimental.  H. Gold (and his right-hand, Fred Pohl) seem more willing to take chances with this mag.  I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

I don’t want to spoil the stories for you, so I’ll keep the synopses brief:

Daniel Galouye has the opening number, a longish novelette called Kangaroo Court.  It’s an interesting murder mystery in a world where telepathy has made crime obsolete.  An extra twist is the development of memory copying–a technology that lets one create a full simulacrum of a person’s personality up to the date of storage.  I’m given to understand that a writer should only present one revolutionary technology per story, but I think Galouye pulls it off.  Three stars.

Margaret St. Clair is also back with her short story, Parallel Beans, a cute little piece about the dangers of bartering across alternate time streams.  Three stars.

Wedge, by H.B. Fyfe, is about a human prisoner who is the subject of an alien intelligence test.  Is he the testee or the tester?  The first weak piece of the issue: Two stars.

But it is followed up by To Choke an Ocean by the reliable J.F.Bone.  I like stories without antagonists, and they get bonus points if they involve interesting alien civilizations.  Four stars.

That brings us to Arthur Porges, who turned 45 yesterday (Happy Birthday!) His Words and Music, about a man who can tell a person’s future in a decidedly off-beat (or perhaps “on-beat” is more appropriate) fashion, would make a fantastic episode of The Twilight Zone.  Another four star tale.

There is a brief interlude during which Fred Pohl contributes a longish book-review column.  It includes praise for the rather awful The Tomorrow People, by Judy Merril.  It is followed by Robert Shea’s unusually written, but rather pointless, Star Performer, involving a Martian aborigine and his effect on the decadent, overripe population of Earth.  Two stars.

Finally, R.A. Lafferty offers up Six Fingers of Time, about a fellow who discovers a talent for living life at an accelerated rate.  The writing is odd, and the subject matter uninspired, and yet…it has a certain charm.  Three stars.

That puts us at exactly three stars for the issue no matter how you slice it, which ranks it above Astounding and below F&SF this month.  No surprises there.  F&SF also wins the prize for best story: George Elliott’s The NRACP, though to be fair, it’s a reprint.  I might give the nod for best original story to Bone.  Your mileage will almost assuredly vary. 

Finally, of the 22 stories, serial portions, and non-fiction articles appearing in the three magazines, exactly two of them were written by women.  I’ll leave this datum here without further observation or opinion.

This weekend, I’m off to the movies to watch Dinosaurus, the new flick from the team that brought us The Blob and 4D-Man.  Sadly, neither of the members of my immediate family will go with me.  Perhaps I’ll run into one of you, my beloved fans.

And for those who came here to see the pretty pictures, here are the costumes from our local science fiction convention:

And some attendees, not in costume:

Yes, that’s the Traveller, himself (on the left).

That’s all for today, and if you’re one of the gracious attendees who allowed me to take her/his picture, do drop me a line!