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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.)

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey)
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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.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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."

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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/acrid-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!

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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:

(see the rest )
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Comic book lovers, science fiction aficionados, and history buffs all share some characteristics, no matter how disparate their interests may seem on the surface: they are passionate about their pidgin, they plumb deeply into the lore of their fields, and they are all just a bit off-center from the rest of "normal" society.

Let's face it--it's 1961, and conformity is still the rule of the day. We're expected to wear suits and hats (though our new President seems to be a trendsetter in the "no hats" arena). We're supposed to abandon the frivoloties of youth and settle down to hard work and raising a family. Heaven forbid our interests should stray outside the socially acceptable pasttimes of sports, religion, politics, and cocktail parties.

But for those of us who refuse to "grow up", we still want to belong somewhere. We don't want to go it alone; we seek out others of our ilk. The weird ones. The creative ones.

The Fans.

So we form clubs, some associated with centers of learning, others with geographic districts. We create fan circles that put out fanzines. We form readers' groups to share our self-penned works.

And...we hold conventions.

These are generally smallish affairs compared to their business-oriented cousins, with attendance running into the hundreds. But for the fan who normally has a local community of just a few fellows (and perhaps many more as pen pals), going to a convention is like a pilgrimage to Mecca. One meets people with completely different experiences, different perspectives. There is the opportunity to get news from far and wide on exciting new projects, both fan and professional. And the carousing is second to none, both in the heights of enthusiasm and creativity.

Take a look at my newly developed roll of shots from "WonderCon", a sizeable affair held last weekend in Los Angeles. These are some dedicated fans, some fabulous costumes, and some terrific times!

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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.

(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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The Journey presents that annual assemblage of scientifiction (stf or "steff") fans known as WorldCon!

all pictures from

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:

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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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.

(read the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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What is it that makes a con? Is it the chance to meet published authors and prominent fans? Is it the spirited discussion of high-minded concepts deep into the night? Is it the opportunity to engage in salacious activities?

Ultimately, what a convention all comes down to is building a community. We all live in disparate locations around the country, and even with the gleaming new interstate system that allows us to travel in minutes what used to take hours, the density of fans in any given location is not particularly high. So we all congregate in one place so that, for a brief shining instant, we can imagine a world where the fan is the norm.

It's a beautiful (and sometimes frightening) idea.

The convention I just came back from was Westercon SD (not to be confused with the "true" Westercon, currently still going on in Boise, Idaho and known this year as "Boycon"). All of the traditional con activities were present: the filk sings, the masquerade, the dance (a sock-hop, of course).

(Come to Galactic Journey for the rest!)


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