Fanorama by Walt Willis
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From WALTER A. WILLIS
Despite the fact that most people seemed to think that last year's World Convention in Chicago was too big, the organisers of this year's one at Philadelphia persisted in advertising that theirs would be even bigger. Well, of course, it wasn't. Attendance was a mere 650, which hardly seems enough for a quorum after the hordes of Chicago. However, by all accounts—except the financial variety—it seems to have been a success, at least from the point of view of the ordinary guest. One of the far from ordinary guests, incidentally, was editor Bert Campbell, of AUTHENTIC, paying his first visit to America. (By the way, I'd like to make it clear that it was he that paid it—he wasn't subsidised by British fandom in any way as their representative, and indeed wouldn't even let his name be considered when we were thinking of sending someone to the Philcon. Our representative won't be going until next year and he will be chosen by vote). Bert caused quite a sensation, one awed American fan commenting that his beard was the most fantastic thing in all science fiction, several people asking him did he come over by submarine, and some asking was he going to describe his hair-raising experiences during the programme or, alternatively, challenge Richard Shaver to a debate. Unfortunately his spot on the programme came in the morningwhen few conventioneers are awake, except possibly those who are just staggering off to bed. I can imagine some of these late revellers casting a delirious look at Bert and deciding they'd lay off the stuff for good. The morning is the time they always put strangers on because they don't know how they're going to turn out. (I remember turning out myself in answer to a frantic telephone call and rushing onto the speakers' dais without even having had time to shave. The audience must have thought from Bert's chin that he'd overslept from the last Philcon in 1946).
Fortunately the irrepressible Bert made another and unscheduled appearance later on in the day when during the voting for the site of the 1954 Convention he put in an unexpected bid for London. He actually got 61 votes, too, which makes one speculate what would have happened if in some moment of madness he'd been given a majority. Since only about two of those present would have been likely to afford to come to London, the other 648 would presumably have had to vote all over again for their "regional " convention or do without one altogether. An unthinkable thought. The nomination actually went to San Francisco, being pushed through by the Philadelphia group who thereby made some amends for having captured the honour from 'Frisco last year by adroit political manoeuvering.
Other notable events were a hilarious speech by Isaac Asimov as toastmaster at the banquet, where the awards were presented. That for the fan personality of the year went to Forry Ackerman, who announced he was passing it on to our own Ken Slater for the great work he has done for fandom and science fiction. The award for best American promag was diplomatically split between GALAXY and ASF. The award for the best novel went to Bester for THE DEMOLISHED MAN. The vote for the best fanmag was so widely dispersed, the only people really concerned being fan editors and each doubtless voting for his own, so that no award was made.
One original feature of the Convention was the publication of a daily newsheet, which must have been a great boon for people who were wondering where they'd been last night.
SPACE TIMES (Organ of the Nor-west Science-Fantasy Club). Editors Eric Bentcliffe and Eric Jones, 47 Alldis St., Gt. Moor, Stockport, Cheshire. Subscription 7/6 for 12 issues.
From the June issue the covers take a Turner for the better, by way of celebrating the magazine's anniversary. This issue is nicely turned out but suffers from a surfeit of fiction. There are no less than five stories in this issue, four by fans and one by John Russell Fearn—Vargo Statten to you and half the British pocketbook industry. Two of them are utter drivel. The shortest and best, terms usually synonymous in fanmag fiction, is by Eric Bentcliffe.
ORBIT (Leeds Science Fiction Association), Sept./Oct., 1953. Editor G. Gibson. Subscription 1/- per issue to J. Smillie, 3 New Inn St., Wortley, Leeds, 12. I'm afraid I couldn't possibly recommend you to start your subscription with this first issue—I sometimes think that all fan editors should start with their second issues, just as the week should begin. on Tuesday—but it does show a great deal of promise. The most interesting article in this rather small first edition is by Mike Rosenblum, recounting the proud story of how British organised fandom started in Leeds 17 years ago.
from Nebula No. 6, December 1953
Last revised: 1 October, 2006
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