OF THINGS I WISH I'D KNOWN AT THE TIME
Now The Book has been out for a month or so, various people have
kindly contributed suggestions (polite way of saying 'have nit-picked')
as to places where I might have got it slightly wrong. And a couple
of good stories have already emerged that I would have liked to
have included, if I'd only heard about them before. So here goes,
with Additions and Corrections as received so far:
GOOD STORIES THAT I MISSED OUT!
1. Chapter 3 'Recruiting Station' - Cliff Teague in Action
Rog Peyton writes, "Not quite true
when you say that 'the only person Cliff had ever taken along on
one of his scavenging trips was Mike Beard', and Im amazed
that you've forgotten my trips to London with Cliff, my first meeting
with fans and our near-arrest...
Shortly after meeting Cliff
in the autumn of 1960, we hitch-hiked down to London and did a tour
of Les Floods bookshop, then Plus Books (where we grabbed
every Ace double we could find) and several other market stalls,
one of which had several pulp mags we couldnt afford. Cliff
somehow got the stall-holder to keep them for him and he returned
to London for the next few Saturdays buying as many as he could
afford each week.
On my second trip with Cliff
we did the same tour of shops and visited Jim Groves in the afternoon.
In the evening we ended up at a London fan party, but I have no
recollection of whose flat it was. I do remember meeting George
Locke and Pat Kearney, and maybe Jim Linwood and Alan Burns - or
was that at Ken Cheslin's Bonfire Party?
The third trip nearly didnt
happen thanks to our watchful police... O ne Saturday morning, Cliff
and I made a very early start (5am) and our first lift said he could
take us as far as the M1. He dropped us at the end of what was going
to be the Birmingham link to the M1, about to be opened very shortly.
So you can imagine the scene, high security area, all fenced off
with barriers. We didnt know which way to go, so tried to
make our way through the barriers, not seeing, until the last moment,
two armed policemen who didnt like the look of two youngsters
walking through a security area, one carrying a heavy-looking hold-all.
So what are you doing
here and whats in the bag? one of them asked.
He opened it, and they stared
in disbelief at the great wad of comics inside. 'What's all this?
Aren't you a bit old for kiddies comics?'
'Were taking them down
to London to sell, so we can buy science fiction books,' Cliff informed
The officers looked at each
other, while Cliff went into one of his enthusiastic explanations.
'Look, this one's a classic! he exclaimed. Here, this
one's got some of Steve Ditko best artwork. Now this is the first
installment of a new serial, and this is the rare Marvel issue in
which the hero gets carried off into the jungle and....
Satisfied that we werent
saboteurs, they directed us where to get another lift, and wandered
off, muttering 'Bloody nutters!'
2. Chapter 8 'Brumcon Blues' - More fun with Charles Platt
Terry Pratchett writes, "My famously
unreliable memory believes that we were on the fourth floor of the
Midland Hotel. Platt was rowing with somebody unknown to us -- we
were neos, remember -- and suddenly several guys grabbed him, opened
the window and pushed him out. Presumably they'd ascertained that
outside was a wide ledge with a dinky little railing, but you never
know. The window was shut and the curtains drawn on his screams
of 'You bastards', and then the glass was shattered as he tried
to break back in. At this point, recalling that the hotel security
was a man like a wall in a suit, we surmised that this would be
a good time to go and buy a Brian Burgess pork pie. I've checked
this with Dave Busby, who was also there as an innocent bystander,
and I'd be surprised if Ed James wasn't also. It was mentioned in
at least one fanzine afterwards, because I was credited with saying
'I moved so fast you could see where I had been, outlined in vacuum."
3. Chapter 8; Brumcon Blues
Bill Burns writes, "Why were there
so many troublemakers at such a small con? Take the case of Pat
Picton, for instance.
I'm not sure what started it, but on the Saturday night Pat Picton
was making a nuisance of himself and was annoying a lot of people
at the con. Now in those days the Delta Group had a remedy for everything,
which we carried with us wherever we went. This was before Duct
Tape (Gaffer's Tape in the UK) was the cure-all, but Tony Edwards
worked for a company which took rolls of Irish linen about 30 inches
wide, dyed them in bright colours, applied pressure-sensitive adhesive
to one side, and slit them into rolls of various widths. The edges
of the roll (about 2" in width) were thrown away, and Tony
was able to take them home.
"Delta used this tape to make sets, costumes, and props, including
the Frankenstein monster's head I'm wearing in the Brumcon photo
below. Since we were filming scenes for 'Breathworld' at Brumcon,
naturally Tony had brought a good supply of tape with him. Getting
back to Pat Picton, when we just couldn't take it any more, we rolled
him in a piano cover, taped it up with Tony-tape, and left him in
the Gents. I never saw him again after that!"To
which I can add a postscript; Pat was a long-haired fan from Malvern
who hung around with Graham Hall and Dick Richardson, and I can't
say I cared for him very much, although unfortunately I didn't see
that particular incident. However, somebody must have released him
because he was in Lang Jones' room the following night with Mary
Reed & Co, playing various musical instruments. He surfaced
again at the following year's Yarcon, when he absconded from the
hotel on the Monday morning without paying his bill. Chairman Dave
Barber was not happy about this and despatched Phil Rogers and other
strong men to likely hiding places in search of the miscreant. Pat
Picton was found skulking around the railway station and was dragged
back to the hotel, where I remember sitting quietly in a corner
in the lounge and listening in awe to Dave's Righteous Anger, as
he demanded an apology to the landlord and a solemn promise to make
good on the debt. I don't know if it frightened Pat Picton, but
it certainly impressed me! Whether or not he ever paid up is conjectural
(I doubt it), but this incident, among others, depressed Dave and
it was one of the factors that caused him to gafiate soon afterwards.
4. Chapters 18 & 20, 'It all seems so long ago'
Simon Green writes, "It was great
fun to relive the '79 Seacon; my very first Worldcon. I was staying
in one of the overflow hotels. My roon was a fire exit. On the outside
of my door was a big sign saying FIRE EXIT, and a hammer attached
to the door by a length of steel chain. The idea being, that in
the case of a fire, you ran to my door, smashed the lock in with
the hammer, and ran across my room to the fire exit... The things
we go through, for a Worldcon... I also remember Fritz Leiber saying
he'd been watching the tide coming in and out, and that at his age,
that was exciting.....
"And a very belated apology. I was one of those amateur writers
who sent appalling stories to you, trying to get into the 'Andromeda'
book. And pestered you when I didn't hear soon enough. All I can
say was that I was very young. (I do recall getting a very understanding
letter from you, explaining the facts of life in publishing. Other
editors weren't nearly as friendly, helping make me into the hard-hearted
professional I am today.) Having just sent my thirtieth book off
to my agent, it all seems so very long ago... and I can't say I
miss the rejections one bit."
This was compiled after a great deal of work by my editor at NESFA
Press, Tony Lewis. It's something I should have done myself, because
unfortunately a few subtleties slipped through, as you'll notice
1. How many 'John Berrys?' Only two, actually. The references on
Page 198 & 203 both refer to the American John D. Berry. I should
have made that clear.
2. How many 'Malcolm Edwards?' Two, actually. The real Malcolm commented
dryly at Noreascon that many of the Index credits were not actually
to him but to the pseudonym of the same name. So, for clarity, the
REAL Malcolm is referred to from pages 190 onwards.
3. How many 'Dave Woods?' Two actually, though neither are listed.
I could usefully have mentioned Dave Wood the Younger on Page 49,
because he was ringleader of a small group of Nottingham schoolboys
who produced a fanzine called 'Icarus' that appeared briefly at
the time of 'Tensor' and 'Chaos', and with whom Charles Platt and
I corresponded. He finked-out of attending RePetercon at the last
minute and was never heard from again. Meanwhile Dave Wood the Elder
is actually mentioned on Page 29, with his website on the BRE Astounding,
but is unaccountably absent from the Index. Sorry, Dave!
4. And of course, only one 'Mal Ashworth', appearing briefly in
the Epilogue on Page 283, but not in the Index.
Apologies to Jim Young, mentioned on Page 198, and who tells
me that what I describe is a serious criminal offence, but (to his
great relief), it couldn't have been him anyway since he was still
at college in 1971. And Andy Porter, who set up the whole
nefarious deal, claims to have no memory of the real perpetrator.
Probably just as well!
Apologies also to Mike Resnick, who I described on Page 233
as the prospective chairman of the 'Chicago in 1979' bid-that-never-was,
only to be disabused of this notion in Boston. On reflection I think
I might have meant Larry Propp. Anyone know for sure?
Finally, Rog Peyton is curious about the identity of the
mysterious 'Phil Otterill' on Page 213 (and in the Index). "Any
relation to my old pal Phil COTTERILL?" he enquires.
White writes to correct an important detail on Page 131, correcting
a misapprehension I've had for many years, right up to Noreascon,
when I congratulated Steve Stiles once again on those superb covers
he did for the later Voids:-
"Bhob Stewart was indeed a regular contributor
to VOID -- as an artist. As, in fact, the creator of those "multi-page
covers" which you have for some reason attributed to Steve
Stiles. Bhob created the concept, he created Que Wertyuiop (who
hosted the covers), and he drew all of them except the final one,
which he was unable to finish."That one was for VOID
28, the *five*-page cover about The Void Boys at Towner Hall. Bhob
wrote it completely, sketched out all five pages, pencilled the
first three, and inked the first page and part of the second. Steve
Stiles pencilled the remainder, and I did all the remaining inking.
I also did the 'production' -- which I presented at a Worldcon artshow
-- which involved negative photostats which received additional
zip-a-tone overlays and inking (having a 'white-out' effect), positive
stats which were further overlaid, electrostencilling and the final
(All previous multi-page covers were directly stencilled by Bhob
and me, working together.)"One significant difference
between the original multi-page covers on VOID and Ross Chamberlain's
later multi-page covers for QUIP -- aside from the difference in
artists and approach -- was that VOID's were always of an odd number,
three or five. QUIP's were always an even number, four. VOID's used
the first two pages as a sort of 'pre-cover' which introduced the
actual cover on the 3rd or 5th page.
"As often as not, that 3rd-page cover was by someone else.
At least once it was an ATom illo (which Sylvia had stencilled for
her aborted FANZINE and given to me). The cover which welcomed Terry
Carr to New York, and introduced him as VOID's fourth coeditor,
ended on a J. Wesley Trufan cover, conceived by Terry, based on
a drawing George Willick had commissioned for a fan-award statuette
which I redrew as a perverted Statue of Liberty, with Bhob drawing
J. Wesley Trufan over a Terry Carr pencilling. Very collaborative,
a product of Towner Hall. QUIP's covers were just comic-strips."
Wood (The Elder) hastens to point out that I was wrong in saying
(on Page 307) that Walt Willis never attended another British convention,
since he attended Conspiracy, the British worldcon in 1987. Dave
Langford also reminded me that Walt and Madeleine were at the 1985
Leeds Eastercon, where they met TAFF delegates Patrick & Teresa
Nielsen Hayden -- who later visited the Willises in Ireland, and
made it clear in their TAFF report segment in Hyphen 37 that they
talked to Walt at that Eastercon. To which Greg Pickersgill adds
sentiments similar to my own, "Good grief,
I don't remember that! Was I there?"
Meanwhile, Edward James notes that "only
in a totally alternate universe is the Randolph Hotel in Oxford
opposite the Bodleian Library. You go out of the hotel, turn right,
turn left at the lights, and carry on for maybe 250 yards, and THEN
you are at the Bodleian. I think you probably meant that the Randolph
was opposite the Ashmolean Museum...!" Brian Aldiss
spotted the same mistake on the same day - that will teach me to
try and give some local colour, when I don't really know my way
around Oxford very well!
THINGS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE TRUE
Greg Pickersgill and I have a minor disagreement concerning
his reaction after I sold him my set of the American issues of 'Galaxy'
magazine in 1968 (Page 172). Greg thinks it unlikely he would have
complained at my price of £15.0.0d, while I can only comment
that I have a faint but clear memory of Mr P giving me a dirty look
at the convention immediately following, with a mutter to the effect
that 'he'd been robbed.' Greg did tell me this wasn't so, back last
Xmas, but I deliberately left in the reference because, well, that's
the way I remember it as having happened. This may well be False
Memory Syndrome, (who can tell at this late date?) but anyway, it
made a better story that way! Certainly Greg was right that I bought
back some of those issues, and jolly glad to get them, too.MOST
Pardoe asked, (and was echoed by Rob Jackson): 'Tynecon
(74) is conspicuous by its almost complete absence from the book.
It was such a good convention that this seems odd, and I wonder
what the reason for this might be?'
The answer is that up to the end of 1971 (chapter 15) my account
is deliberately linear, blow-by-blow, month by month. The five remaining
chapters are instead about individual SUBJECTS, arranged in rough
chronological order but with some tracking backwards and forwards
along the timeline. So there's a chapter about the end of Speculation,
then one about TAFF, and so on. I did this consciously, because
it seemed to work better that way, and this structure didn't really
allow me to write about the remaining cons of the 1970s, except
was a natural break in the continuity, too; in 1973 Eileen and I
brought our baby (Alison) to the Bristol OMPAcon, when she was almost
exactly a year old. She was taken ill on the first day, was awake
the whole night, and we had to go home early the next morning. So
I missed most of the con (another reason, if one were needed, for
the end of Speculation soon afterward).At
one stage I did contemplate writing a sort of catch-all chapter
on the mid-seventies eastercons, contrasting the high point of Tynecon
with the all-time low of Owens Park, and mentioning the two DeVere
events along with Skycon and Leeds in 1979. But there already were
EIGHT eastercon reports in 'Stars', (eight-and-a-half, if you count
my partial coverage of Chessmancon) and I started to feel this was
probably enough. Also, by then I was a month late and 50,000 words
over-long, so in the end I left it at 20 chapters - a nice round
number, I thought.
1. Rog Peyton comments on Ken Bulmer's entry in 'Where Are
They Now?', and says, "The Dray Prescot
series ran to 38 books in the USA and continued up to about #65
(I think) in France or Germany or someplace that doesn't read real
books...." Well, I did say there were 'at least fifteen
Darroll Pardoe writes with a lot of extra detail on all sorts
of events, but adds, "The most interesting
thing, from my own personal point of view, is how I seemed to disappear
from your radar in the 1970s. The last mention of me in the book
is at the 1971 convention, and though you say (p. 295) that I 'to
some extent dropped out of active fandom' it ain't so. You and I
met numerous times during the 70s, I published quite a lot of fanzines
and went to a lot of conventions, and even had a few trips back
to the States.
"However, around this time
fantasy (as distinct from sf) fandom started to take off and Rosemary
and I became heavily involved with it. We were the first editors
of the Tolkien Society's magazine; Rosemary started the British
Fantasy Society; and we became regular attendees at the Fantasycons
right from the start. This was all stuff that I suspect was passing
you by at the time.
"But I was still active
in the more traditional strands of fandom - I was Treasurer of OMPA
for some years. So I am still a bit puzzled. (Especially as Rosemary
and I became regular attendees at the BSFG meetings for several
years at the back end of the 70s)."
reply, Darroll, I can only agree - you were 'off my radar'. This
was the time when British fandom started to fragment, so people
could be active in different sections and never come into contact.
I remember you at some of those BSFG meetings, although you only
came occasionally and didn't take a committee role. But Darroll,
you're certainly a survivor, and I'm glad you were there for our
meeting with the speaker from the Aetherius Society!3.
Chapter 10 - Back on Track - NOW the full story comes out!On
Page 127 I describe the visit Rog and I made to Archie Mercer, back
in September 1967. For months last year Rog and I struggled to recall
exactly WHY we'd gone down to Bristol; I thought maybe we'd gone
to print Vector, but Rog pointed out he'd long since ceased to edit
it by then. So in the end I flimped, and said it was 'primarily
a social call'. Not
so! For the all-knowing Sandra Bond recently unearthed a
3-part article of mine in Mike Meara's fanzine 'Lurk', and with
the help of Greg, Sandra, and Rob Hansen I've managed to get hold
of all three installments. It appears to be the transcript of a
talk I gave at the very first Novacon, and deals with the economics
of publishing Speculation. Some snippets could usefully have gone
into the book, if I'd known about this last year, such as the fact
that I was apparently producing 400 copies back in 1971, and they
cost me nearly £50.00 per issue. Those were the days!But
it explains why we went to see Archie; simple really, we were going
to duplicate my fanzine. Of COURSE we were! Here's the full story:-"Archie Mercer was going
to print Zenith 10 on his machine. I'd agreed to take some ink along,
and being less familiar with the technicalities than I am now, we
took along an assortment of mismatched tubes of Emgee ink, none
of which would fit onto a Gestetner machine (apparently you need
to ask for the special 'Gestetner Express Inking' tubes). As the
local suppliers had closed for the day, we ended up opening the
bottoms of old Gestetner tubes, filling them with Emgee ink, and
then trying to bash them shut again. It was a very messy, soul-searing
experience, which I don't recommend to anyone!"That
accounts for the remarkable greyness of that particular issue, a
fact noted by Charles Platt. Archie must have run-off the pages
at full automatic, while we frantically squirted ink into the rollers
by hand. How COULD we have forgotten all that, Rog!4.
Chapter 20: Worldcons - The Confrontation!Darroll
Pardoe writes "Ro and I were there on
the spot to witness your famous Friday-night confrontation with
the Metropole security at Seacon '79. We were hanging out with a
group of people down by the reception area, some time in the early
hours, just standing around and talking, when the hotel security
detail began to make their presence felt. They insisted that people
couldn't sit on the floor or (horrors) have bare feet - I don't
think they had seen anything quite like an SF convention before!
Somebody went to rouse you from your bed, and the atmosphere was
quite tense by the time you appeared on the scene. Quite a sustained
shouting-match ensued, but I remember you definitely had the best
of the argument. No doubt you were fired-up with rage and adrenaline
inside, but to me you seemed very together and in control of the
situation - afterwards there was a spontaneous burst of applause!
You certainly achieved something, because the security hassles for
the rest of the convention were as nothing, compared to that night!"To
which I can only add, "gosh, wow, Darroll, that's not the way
it felt to me! I was totally consumed by rage and thought I would
probably have looked more like some sort of raving madman. Any other
witnesses out there?"Arnold Akien adds his comments on these events: "Now, then - I suddenly remembered that I had been present at this August
Occasion and that ... I had a photograph of the event in the corridor ! ....
in an old album, in a cardboard box ... somewhere .... and after much searching here it is.
"The camera that I used at YOUR Worldcon was a Tiny Technical Toy of a thing intended for another purpose, stuck in my pocket at the last moment, and not really up to the conditions that it was exposed to so don't expect too much as compared to modern digital cameras.The Pics are rather low resolution and a bit blurred ...but then so are the accounts of your confrontation with hotel Management - I was there too ! - which I recall as being, on your part, controlled, determined to take no nonsense, adamant and backed by a contract that you were prepared to enforce in Law if need be but were sure that no such thing would be necessary since the Hotel was Bound to see reason .... and there would be no reason for you to disturb people higher-up the hotel's hierarchy... and so on, and so forth.
"Ah, well, it was long ago, as was Seacon ' 79. I've scanned all of my pics of Your Worldcon - The Con Everyone Has Pleasant Memories Of - Seacon ' 79 into my computer, and have created a website which everyone can view."5.
Tony Keen notes, "On page 183, Brian
Aldiss regrets that a Martian War Machine was never built. Well,
there isn't one on Primrose Hill, but there is one, albeit not full-scale,
in Woking, where, of course, Wells wrote the novel. (Simon Bradshaw
has more on his website: www.cix.co.uk/~sjbradshaw/martian/.)
So George Hay's vision has been partly fulfilled." 6.
Bruce Gillespie reminded me that I didn't finish the story
of my Australian rivals in 'Move Over, Mate' (Page 154 onwards).
Bruce said:-"Something slightly jarred
in your coverage of ASFR, for you remember George Turner
as being already one of the ASFR critics when you first saw
a copy (#7). He wasn't. He came in halfway through, which is why
he had such an impact on Australian fandom. We all believed John
Foyster was the meanest varmint critic alive, then suddenly George
Turner appeared out of the mesquite, all guns blazing, in ASFR
10. But from the current perspective, yes, George would have seemed
to have been a major critic in Australian fanzines from the beginning.
After all, he became the most visible Australian critic as soon
as he appeared, and stayed that way for at least 20 years."My only disappointment
*sigh* was the complete lack of mention of SF Commentary,
and its role of continuing the ASFR tradition after ASFR
went kerphutt at the end of 1968. (But then, you seem to be one
of the few international fans who remembers Leigh and Valma). The
first issue of SFC was officially dated January 1969, although
it didn't get posted until early March of that year. The official
schedule and the real schedule began to match after I gained my
own duplicator in the middle of 69 -- (as you describe about your
own circumstances) with some financial difficulty."SF Commentary #1
was without doubt the worst-produced ambitious fanzine ever to be
posted to anyone. Basically, I had no access to cover art, and I
typed 66 stencils on a little Olivetti portable that only half-cut
the stencils. So it looked bloody awful, but got letters of comment
from a vast number of people, including Philip K Dick. The next
few issues were typed on my father's grand old Underwood -- great
fun to type the stencils, but one didn't get much on a page, because
it was a 10 pitch typewriter. Ron Graham donated enough money for
me to buy the little portable on which I typed every issue until
No. 19 (end of 1970). I had my first real money at the beginning
of 1970, so I bought from John Foyster what had been the ASFR
typewriter. It was a portable, but typed a beautiful stencil. I
still have it."The important thing was
the influence that Speculation had on SF Commentary.
As my early issues showed, I had no idea of layout or artwork when
I started, despite the example set by John Bangsund. Your covers
gave me some idea of what I should be trying to do, but I could
rarely find artists who were willing to send me material. And, like
ASFR, Speculation mainly influenced SFC by
showing how tightly a sercon-based fanzine could be edited."
is right, I really should have mentioned SFC in the book.
I remember that first issue of his, precisely because it was such
a mess, but I could see the seeds of greatness there and gave a
small groan at the realisation that those damn Australians hadn't
gone away after all! However, I never regarded Bruce as being the
same sort of implacable rival I sensed John Bangsund to be; for
one thing, I was much further along with Speculation by this
time, was attracting a whole raft of new writers of my own, and
didn't feel so disadvantaged. And Bruce obviously wanted to be friends,
he wrote me letters (something Bangsund never did) and wanted to
trade, a much more normal response. My only other memory of the
early years of SF Commentary is a mild sense of guilt that
I didn't reciprocate fully by responding much to Bruce's fanzine;
but then, by that time I was pretty fully committed elsewhere and
wasn't writing LoCs to anyone!
picking, fans. I'm sure there are more errors to be found yet!
note: Please send corrections, additions, offers of photographs,
etc. directly to Peter at [email protected]