Tag Archives: conventions

[Oct. 2, 1962] Women of Washington, Unite!  (The Seventh Geek Girl Con in Seattle)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]


by Gideon Marcus

Ah, Geek Girl Con.  Every year, Seattle’s clarion call of intellectual feminine fandom calls us to attend Washington’s signature science fiction/fantasy event.  It is an intimate (but growing) gathering of sff devotees with a fascination for things both creative and technical.

This year, as with last year, the Journey was invited to speak on the last 12 months in fandom, and boy did we have a lot to relate.  From coverage of Marvel Comics’ slew of new superheroes to a report on this year’s Hugo winners, and with a special piece on the woman pioneers of space exploration, our four panelists ensured that our several dozen attendees left educated and excited.

Of course, there was plenty more going on this year, from a burgeoning Huckster Hall to an active costuming scene.  There was a host of interesting panels.  We personally attended one on activism and how our breed of fanaticism can be channeled to make a positive difference in the world.  Sort of a “Fen Forward!” or “Beatniks for a Better world!”  With all the racial strife, economic inequality, strife on the foreign scene, and the increasing specter of Goldwater isolationism and reactionary policy going on, we need all of our wacky team united in the cause of improving society. 

There was also an excellent panel on Black fandom (there are more members than you think!) and the hope for the appearance of a Black comic superhero.  My bet is that, of the two big comics houses, Marvel is the more likely to dare in that direction.  But who knows?

Here, then, is a mini-gallery of some of the dressed-up friends I managed to snap photos of.  My apologies for not having so many this year – it was an awfully busy (but very fun!) time:


The radiant Sarah Kauppila as Snow White…and her lovely mother, Luann, as the Evil Queen


Cruella de Ville from last year’s Disney film, 101 Dalmatians


Erika Rae Heins, a Middle Earth enthusiast


Rosemary, a modern-age Wonder Woman


Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble

That’s it for this year, but it’s almost a certainty we’ll be flying back on Alaska Airlines come next October.  Especially now with their swell Convair 880s, which go a bit faster than the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8.  First time we’ve ever ridden in one!

[AND DON’T MISS LIVE COVERAGE OF WALLY SCHIRRA’S SIGMA 7 MERCURY FLIGHT BEGINNING TONIGHT!]




[April 3, 1962] Wide-eyed in Wonder (WonderCon 1962)


by Gideon Marcus

Good golly, is it 1962 already? WonderCon remains one of the largest and most up-to-date conventions in the state. Attendance was well into the hundreds, likely due to the broad scope of fandoms covered. Everything from comic books to science fiction film and television – it’s almost like Galactic Journey Con! (if you’re new to the Journey, reference this summary article to see what we’re all about.)

As always, I bummed around the Exhibit Hall and Art Show while the Young Traveler spent a lot of time in panels learning various art tips.

Check out this vendor who dealt in recent magazines and Ace Doubles – I cleaned him out, largely to get gifts for my panels.

I almost picked up this film magazine, but the loss of James Garner (from the show) is still too fresh…

I ran across an amazing store, The Rational Past, which sells all manner of antique and new treasures. Most importantly, they fixed my slide-rule case, which was falling off my belt, the leather was so fatigued.

Here’s an amazing World Expo card case my friend, Professor Elliot, found. Nearly thirty years old. An antique!

And here are me and the Professor, doing our shtick in the Exhibit Hall:

And now, for your viewing pleasure, costumed attendees. I’ve grouped them by logical association:

Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady

Vintage theme

Anastasia, Czarina of all the Russias

Colonel Sanders

His chicken was finger-lickin’ good!

Disney

As charming a Minnie as you’d hope, and so tall!

I hope the little girl didn’t cross the Queen’s path!

A very timely set of costumes from 101 Dalmations– this movie came out just last year.

Alice in Wonderland

…and a witch!

Lensman

An excellent Kimball Kinnison, the Gray Lensman!

Curious George

May I have a collective “awwwww” from the audience?

The Addams Family

Wednesday Addams was a surprisingly popular costume choice.

Dick Tracy

Marvel Comics

I wonder if Captain America will be the next hero to be revived? I’m sure that’ll make this booster happy!

National Comics

A strikingly good Amazon!

A picture-perfect “Man of Steel”

I’ll end with my favorite costume of the event. Supergirl is a very recent character from National Comics who has stolen the heart of thousands of fans, me included.

That’s it for WonderCon 1962. To all the new friends I made, feel free to drop me a line, either privately or for publication in the Comments section! See you at ComicCon in just three months…

[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…