gerisullivan: (FANAC logo by James White)
Today - 3rd Jan 2012 - is the 75th anniversary of the first convention, held in Leeds in 1937. Fan historian Rob Hansen writes: "A few months back I was put in touch with Jill Godfrey, daughter of Harold Gottliffe. It was Gottliffe who took photos of the event and not only did Jill have better prints of some of these than had come down the years, she also had several that were unknown to us."

Rob put the photos and other material commemorating the Leeds Conference online in THEN: The Archive. The images include a photo of the young Arthur C. Clarke that has never been seen before. There's also a recently unearthed convention report by Ted Carnell, which he published six years later in his fanzine, Sands of Time #8. Aside from the specific purpose of the Leeds convention, Ted's report strikes a familiar tone:

"On January 3rd 1937 the Leeds Chapter of WONDER's Science Fiction League held Britain's first science fiction Convention. It had been called mainly to decide on a proper fan organisation for this country and many fans and authors all over the country had promised to attend. We met Walt Gillings and Art Clarke at St. Pancras Station late at night and caught the mail train to Leeds. En route we picked up Maurice Hanson at Leicester --- the four of us arriving at Leeds in the dismal small hours around 4.00 a.m."

Kudos and appreciation to Rob Hansen for celebrating the anniversary with this new material! Seventy-five years of conventions. That's not too many.

Appended: the 75th Anniversary page also links to The First Ever Science Fiction Convention discussion of both Philadelphia's and Leed's claims to have been the first science fiction convention. I find Leed's claim for the title far more compelling than Philly's, though I also recognize it is a subject fans and fandom regularly disagree about.
gerisullivan: (7MPLS3)
I've never been to a Nebula Awards Banquet and only follow a bit of the related gossip, so I didn't know until an hour or two ago about Welcome Home, the song Janis Ian sang at last year's Nebs.

The tune is "At Seventeen"; the first line is even the same. After that...oh, my. It's a song that wraps my fannish heart with comfort and joy.

I came to science fiction much later than most, and I think of myself as far less informed than most about the classics and memes of our shared literature. But Janis welcomed me home with every line of "Welcome Home." It's a splendid reunion, and one I will long treasure.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch posted the lyrics and an mp3 with Janis' permission. Down the comments, Kris suggested: "For any of you who want to thank Janis in some way, go to her website and donate to the Pearl Foundation."

Oh, yeah. Absolutely. You bet. I gleefully typed $19.73 in the PayPal field; it was the just right thing for me to do.

Do read through the comments at Kris' post. Janis dropped in with totally charming thanks herself.

In my book, "Welcome Home" is a song, an anthem, that only Janis Ian could have created. In doing so, she has created a new masterpiece. Color me gob-smacked in all the right ways. Goshwow.

Thanks and a tip o'the link hat to Deb Geisler, where I first read about it.
gerisullivan: (7MPLS3)
[livejournal.com profile] beamjockey richly deserves an award for what may well be the Fanhistorical Find of the Decade:

Through the Interstellar Looking Glass, a long, very fannish article by Winthrop Sargeant. It appeared in the May 21, 1951 issue of Life magazine.

I've only skimmed over it myself, going OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG all the way. Screen images captured; Joe Siclari called. He hadn't heard of it before either. Sargeant's article starts on page 127 and goes on, a column at a time, through pages 130, 132-134, 137-138, and finally finishing on page 140.

There's a 2-page image spread sidebar titled "The Fad is Made for Hollywood" with the subtitle "Movies seize on it to pack outer space with some weird tourists."

It may well be the very best coverage of science fiction and fandom that I've ever seen in the media. A few of the terms, such as "fanference" are unfamiliar, but a quick check of Jack Speer's Fancyclopedia shows they'd been in use for most of a decade if not longer. The information I already knew appears rock solid and well-explained. Yes, I expect we'll find the sort of minor glitches present in any published report as other fans and fanhistorians join me in reading it in depth, but at least some of those glitches will be in our own knowledge understanding rather than in Sargeant's article itself.

I'm especially fond of these two timeless quotes:

"Science fiction is now avidly devoured over most of the civilized world."

And

"The science-fiction reader--whether he is an "insurgent," a fan or a simple space opera enthusiast--is apt to maintain that science fiction is not fantasy at all. He will point out that we are living in a very strange world where the most bizarre hypotheses are being proved right practically every day."

Go forth. Read. Enjoy.

I'm certainly going to!
gerisullivan: (1 alien)
Seen in a post forwarded to the mnstf LJ.

Jon Olsen is proposing the creation of a "new, neutral non-profit organization with the goal of serving as a coordinating space between any and all willing fan-run organizations in the region."

The region in question is the Greater Twin Cities Area and the online conversation is starting at League of Wonders.

League of Wonders is meant to be a neutral territory, an effective community builder. And I'd put this statement of Jon's at the core of it all: "oh how I yearn to see us happy together."

Interesting. I wish them luck, and all good things.
gerisullivan: (Default)
Back before I became involved in fandom, there was Vootie, the funny animal apa started by [livejournal.com profile] retooned and Reed Waller. About a year after I started getting active, Vootie ended and Marc Schirmeister started Rowrbrazzle. The WikiFur reference for Vootie says the transition between the two apas is "traditionally considered to be when funny animal fandom became furry fandom." Back then, the difference wasn't nearly as apparent as it is today, as it is this weekend at Further Confusion.

This isn't to be confused with Cryptic ConFusion, which was also this weekend. ConFusion, the sf convention in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, predates Further Confusion, the furry convention, by a solid 25 years.

But only at Further Confusion were you likely to find a parade of well over 400 furry fans, each in full fur-suit regalia. The link is to [livejournal.com profile] kevin_standlee's post about the parade video he shot on the spur of the moment. The parade certainly was a sight to behold.

I certainly didn't fathom anything like it back when I was first getting to know Ken, Reed, and other funny animal cartoonists. Not even when I heard about the split between those who thought sex in funny animal cartoons was fine and those who didn't want it in their apa.

I'm not sure I can fathom it now, even after watching both parts of Kevin's video. 'Cause, y'know? That's a lot of fur....

Fandom certainly is a strange and wonderfully weird place.

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