In many ways late-1963 was the true start of the period we think of when we recall the 1960s. At the end of August, in America, more than 200 000 people marched on Washington in support of black civil rights, a sign of the ground-swell of support the movement that had started in the South in the late 1950s had attracted and a foretaste of the demonstrations and political activism yet to come. Working for civil rights in the South was to have a radicalising effect on many a white Northern student. Out of that experience was to come an organised student movement, the New Left, that was to be the other side of the social and sexual youth revolution that spawned 'the counterculture' or, as it was often called over here, 'the underground'. The Beatles would be at the spearhead of, and a catalyst for, this revolution in music and style, and by late-1963 they had come to national prominence in Britain, 'Beatlemania' sweeping the country. The winds of change were blowing through the corridors of power as well, with the Profumo scandal leading first to the resignation of Harold Macmillan and, in the 1964 General Election, to the defeat of his government and the end of 13 years of Conservative rule. But the winds were to blow more fiercely in the US. The assassination of President Kennedy in November signalled the coming of the new age, the start of the turbulent years that were to be the rite of passage for a generation. (Even the first episode of DR.WHO was broadcast in November 1963 - the day after Kennedy was shot). An appropriate time, then, for a new phase in the story of British fandom to begin.
In November 1963, Peter Weston published the first issue of his fanzine ZENITH (being unaware, of course, of the wartime fanzine of the same name), a half-foolscap production spirit-duplicated in purple ink. Coincidentally, the week ZENITH appeared another new fan came out with POINT OF VIEW, which was also a half-foolscap fanzine spirit duplicated in purple ink. This was published by Charles Platt of Letchworth (a town about 25 miles north of London), who was then in the first year of an economics course at Churchill College, Cambridge. It was in that same year that he founded the Cambridge University Science Fiction Society (CUSFS), a group that exists to this day. Both ZENITH and POINT OF VIEW were full of amateur fiction, lists of new books, plot-synopsis style 'book reviews', and poetry; while POINT OF VIEW declared itself "...an attempt to bring adult SF by amateurs to as wide an audience as possible". In other words they were exactly the sort of publication every young fan thinks of putting out on first discovering fandom. Normally, as Weston later explained, new fans would quickly pass through this phase...
"...when they began to discover something of what it's all about from Older and Wiser heads who've been that way before. Only something went wrong with us. What seemed to have happened was that the British fandom of the early-60s had dissolved in acrimony... It was not until I wormed my way much further into fandom that I actually saw a good fannish zine. I remember being so frustrated, finding out that high-rated titles...had gone defunct just months before I arrived on the scene. At the time it seemed like a conspiracy!"Discovering those fannish fanzines was to come too late to prevent Weston from setting ZENITH on a determinedly sercon course. In the January 1964 issue of LES SPINGE, critic Jim Linwood lumped ZENITH and POINT OF VIEW together in his review column and concluded that "...only ZENITH will develop into something like a normal fanzine". In that same review Linwood was the first to label Weston and Platt 'the New Wave'. Unfortunately the review proved counter-productive. In his next editorial Weston announced that:
"The editor's aversion to many of the average 'fannish' types of article or story makes ZENITH into a magazine that attempts to avoid fannish contents and concentrate on SF as its field".And it may well have been. Linwood later said of this time:
Unknowingly, Weston was setting the course that British fandom would follow through much of the sixties. Where the fannish zines were produced by those who, though SF readers, regarded fandom as an end in and of itself the sercon zines tended to be produced by those who regarded themselves as fans in the more general sense, who perhaps saw fandom as a sort of cheering section for the professionals and a possible gateway for becoming pros themselves. In choosing the latter road Weston ensured that things would be very different than they had been. As he later wrote:
"...by writing one nasty review aimed at crushing a couple of inoffensive, inexperienced newcomers, Linwood split fandom and wreaked havoc. If only, at the time, someone like Ethel Lindsay or Walt Willis had written to say "take no notice, and - welcome to the fold", I feel sure that the rest of the period would have been far different."
"I wrote reviews of Charles Platt's POINT OF VIEW and Pete Weston's ZENITH which apparently introduced the term 'new wave' into fannish usage. It was a term applied at that time to the new French cinema of Goddard, Truffaut, etc. The item caused repercussions totally beyond its merits as a piece of criticism: I was deploring the fact that two amateur magazines had prozine pretensions and their editors seemed totally unaware of the usual ground rules for fanzines...this was a period when fanzine reviews were supposed to be complementary and supportive and I'd decided to break with tradition and write humorous, sarcastic columns to counter this. The irony of course is that Pete's ZENITH became the best UK serious criticism magazine, and Charles went on to become the sort of iconoclast I admire - unfortunately they both hated my guts for an arrogant attempt at being funny at their expense."Not all the new titles at this time came from neofans, and December brought the first issue of SQUEAK from '50s fan Tony Glynn. Unfortunately, SQUEAK was to prove short-lived and the second issue, the following July, was to be the last.
In among its members' small ads, VECTOR 24 (Feb'64) carried a request from anyone "willing to help an up-and-coming Science Fiction Club extend its library" from the 'Royal Air Force Pergamos Science Fiction Club'. The group who, as the name reveals, were based at RAF Pergamos in Cyprus, claimed to have forty members. Fan groups pop up in the oddest places, it seems.
The 'Science Fiction Club Directory' in VECTOR 25 (March'64) - Archie Mercer's last issue as editor - listed the Birmingham group's Tuesday and Sunday meetings, the BSFA open-night that Ella Parker held every Friday evening and which had moved with her to her flat in William Dunbar House in London's Kilburn, and Manchester's Delta group. It also mentioned that the Cheltenham Circle was believed to be defunct, that BSFA members on Tyneside were "in regular contact" and that anyone interested should get in touch with Phil Harbottle, and that those in the Glasgow area should get in touch with Don Malcolm. This last resulted in the formation of the Caledonian SF Group whose founder members were Malcolm himself, Jim Inglis, longtime fans Harry Manson and Gavin Brown, and (possibly) Doctors A.E.Roy and I.F.Clarke (Malcolm seemed unsure about these last two when writing about the group in later years). Unfortunately, little else is known about this group, which was to be short-lived and leave no lasting mark.
There was a lot of dissatisfaction with the BSFA among new fans at this point. In March, in BEYOND 4 (POINT OF VIEW changed its title to BEYOND with its third issue, making it at least the third zine to use that name in the history of British fandom to that point), editor Charles Platt ran a 'BSFA Survey' in which he and his readers listed their gripes about the association. These resulted from the disparity between new members' expectations and what the BSFA actually delivered, and were nicely summed up in a letter from David Busby of Wokingham:
"I'd got hold of the idea, somehow, that the BSFA ran a service for new and hopeful writers, handing out advice and general information, newsletters and encouragement of contact between writers and artists. I expected the BSFA would provide a wide coverage of SF-things of interest; information and news, discussion and comments on recent events, and so on. I expected that the BSFA would have organised or have helped organise many satellite local-area groups and a service for publishing their journals and magazines. I expected to find the Association running letter round-robins, writers' and artists' groups, fanzine publishers' groups, and many other projects like a publishing programme of checklists, biographies, etc. I had expected a much greater liaison with the US organisations, an exchange and pool of material, and so on."Roy Kay, who was running the 'BSFA Orbiter' - a sort of round-robin magazine where everyone on its 'orbit' put in a sample of their own work and a letter of comment on the work of the others - explained the problem:
"There is a massive reluctance - or there has been in the past - for anyone to want to take on any job on the BSFA committee. No one sends in nominations, so the whole thing is left to the last possible moment: the BSFA Annual General Meeting at the Convention. Now and then you get someone who has made up his mind to stand. When this happens you almost always get an enthusiastic committee member. The person wants the job, he has ideas. But, as I say, such is rarely the case. At the AGM, committee members are picked by an astonishing process, with last year's mob pointing at people in the audience who hadn't actually had a post before, and asking, bullying, begging them to take the job. Any job. Just to fill the hole up, as it were. You can't blame anybody for resorting to this technique. It is the only possible thing to do with the blank apathy of the BSFA membership."Platt called for those complaining about the BSFA to actually do something to help improve it, questioned the usefulness of some of the association's services (such as the SF lending library, which seemed to him redundant in an age when paperbacks were plentiful and easily affordable), and concluded:
"With an energetic and enthusiastic committee, inside a year the BSFA could be transformed. This is unlikely to be possible unless the rule that committee members must be over 21 is discarded; this is a first step that would lead to a younger committee with more ideas and plans: a leadership that would inevitably have a strong effect in forming the BSFA into an organisation nearer in practice to the theoretical aims set out in the Constitution."
To anyone who had been around before Weston and Platt appeared, watching them in the early months of 1964 must have been quite disconcerting. Both seemed to have followers, other young fans also producing fanzines with little regard to what had gone before, who just happened to have arrived at more or less the same time. In Birmingham there were Rog Peyton, Charlie Winstone, and Beryl Henley, while on his 'side' Platt had Christopher Priest, Dicky Howett, Peter White, and Graham Hall (formerly of Birmingham, but then living in Tewkesbury). Any appearance of a 'united front' was largely illusory, the main force of attraction in each case being primarily one of geography. Though Weston and Platt began feuding almost from the outset ("puritanical Pete Weston and his thickie Birmingham mates" was how Platt characterised the BSFG on one occasion) they were usually lumped together both by established fans and by newcomers, with many of the latter, as Weston put it, following his and Platt's "red flag of defiance".
With the demise of the Nova Publications magazines seemingly inevitable Mike Moorcock was, in early 1964, considering launching a magazine of his own to publish writers such as himself and J.G.Ballard, writers who had been able to sell the open-minded Carnell work that would have been unpublishable anywhere else at that time. Since his piece in BASTION three years earlier Moorcock's ideas as to just where he wanted to see SF going had crystallised considerably and he wasn't intending to let the death of Nova hamper him. However, things were afoot which would render a new magazine unnecessary. A chance conversation between the NEW WORLDS printer (who was looking for work) and David Warburton (of the publishing firm Roberts and Vinter) led to the latter deciding to buy the magazines from Nova. Roberts and Vinter had hitherto specialised in soft-porn magazines and, coincidentally, Hank Janson novels, and they saw the magazines as a way of gaining respectability. Comic-novelist Kyril Bonfiglioli became editor of SCIENCE FANTASY and, on Carnell's recommendation, the 23 year-old Moorcock was appointed editor of NEW WORLDS. Not unnaturally he was jubilant and couldn't wait to spread the news. As Jim Linwood later recalled, in a piece about the Kingdon Road slan-shack:
"The most significant event - although we did not realise it at the time - occurred one evening when a breathless Mike Moorcock crashed into the communal kitchen announcing: "I've got NEW WORLDS!" The card school paused for a moment and then resumed play, not knowing then how those four words would change forever both the fannish world we knew and SF almost beyond recognition."Moorcock's first issue appeared in May 1964, and NEW WORLDS was embarked on the newest and most contoversial phase of its chequered history. The Kingdon Road slan-shack joined such illustrious predecessors as the Flat and the Epicentre as a thing of the past in the spring, when it's denizens vacated it. Linwood returned to Nottingham with Marion Lansdale, whom he had recently wed, and family responsibilities were to keep him largely out of fandom until the early 1970s.
Linwood had christened the new sercon fanzines that were appearing 'the New Wave', and the movement in SF that NEW WORLDS was soon to find itself the flagship for was also eventually dubbed 'New Wave'. (Given the timing, and the individuals who would be involved in both the fannish and the pro New Wave, it is inconceivable that the term didn't cross-over from fandom. Indeed, Chris Priest has claimed, in conversation with this writer, that he was responsible for this happening. Whatever, it's impossible to pin-point precisely when it started to be used as a label for a particular school of SF writing, though Judith Merrill is often credited with popularising the term in her embarrassingly-titled 1968 anthology, ENGLAND SWINGS SF.) Not that there was much similarity between the pro and fannish New Waves (nor, in fact, between the UK and US versions of New Wave SF - the former being concerned primarily with literary experimentation and the latter with the breaking of 'taboos'), at least in the beginning. Eventually, however, New Wave SF in general and NEW WORLDS in particular would command the allegiance of London's young fanzine fans, while Birmingham's more conservative fandom remained true to John W.Campbell and continued to laud writers such as Heinlein. Both groups were sercon but they would soon form ideologically opposed factions. First, however, the final pillars of the fannish fandom that had dominated the previous decade had to be swept away. The survivors from that time would be made aware of the new situation at that year's Eastercon.
The 1964 Eastercon, held at the Bull Hotel in Peterborough for the second year running and cleverly titled REPETERCON, took place over the weekend of 27th - 30th March. The con was opened on Friday evening by chairman Tony Walsh, who introduced notables such as GoH Ted Tubb, visiting pros Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett, and TAFF winner Wally Weber, whose second visit to the UK this was. Weber had beaten Marion Zimmer Bradley and Bruce Pelz in the TAFF race by 203 votes to 165 and 129 respectively. (He had come last in the UK, the vote being 38, 47, and 40, respectively.) Among the sercon items on the programme during the con was a pro authors 'Tribute to Nova', chaired by Lan Wright, in which writers such as Tubb, Bulmer, and Moorcock reminisced about NEW WORLDS and gave fulsome tribute to Ted Carnell's editorship. The Delta Group got to show a number of their amateur films, irritating a few who had expected pro-quality productions but impressing many more with their humour, outrageous hamming, and entertainment value.
The programme book listed 151 members. Among these were the Birmingham SF Group, with no less than ten members attending. These were Cliff Teague, Rog Peyton, Charlie Winstone, Ed James, Kris Holmes, Cynthia Grant, Mike Higgs, Mike Turner, Ken Cheslin, Pete Weston, and the BSFG's Banbury contingent, Mary Reed and Julia Stone, a pair of teenage girls who had found fandom via the BSFA a few years earlier. Change was in the air at this convention, change that Michael Moorcock caught in the report he wrote for NEW WORLDS 143, his second issue:
"This year was also marked for its high proportion of younger BSFA members, many of whom had a Calvinistic zeal to 'reform' the SF scene and make sure fans talked about SF and nothing but. Older members and professional writers were a trifle bewildered by these young reformers who granted them no mercy."The BSFA AGM, its sixth, was held on the Sunday morning, and a new committee elected for the forthcoming year consisting of Ken Cheslin as Chairman, Roy Kay as Vice-Chairman, Rod Milner as Secretary, Charlie Winstone as Treasurer, and Rog Peyton as Publications Officer - which meant editor of VECTOR, of course. In fact, Peyton would edit VECTOR for two full years from issue 26 (May '64) to issue 39 (Apr'66), during which VECTOR would go from being a scruffily-duplicated fanzine to an impressive and professionally-printed publication rather more appropriate for a supposedly national organisation. It was a clean sweep by the Birmingham SF Group and also the first time in which the committee was composed entirely of people who had entered fandom after the formation of the BSFA. Not content with this, the BSFG put in a bid for the 1965 Eastercon to be held in Birmingham. Ken Cheslin proposed the bid which, after beating an opposing bid from Harrogate, was accepted. Most of those who had been elected to various offices in the BSFA were also soon to find themselves on the committee for the con.
Also at the AGM, the age at which members could hold office was dropped from 21 to 18 and the advertising situation was reviewed. Previously, Nova Publications had donated free advertising space in NEW WORLDS but Roberts and Vinter were not continuing this practice, nor in fact having any interior advertising. Ella Parker mentioned that at one time the BSFA was running an ad on the London Underground, which at the time cost a penny a day per spot. The committee also voted to donate a third of all REPETERCON profits to the Delta Group in order for them to produce a film for the London Worldcon in 1965. In the final business of the session the BSFA awarded its trophy for services to fandom, the Doc Weir Award, to Archie Mercer. Not that the meeting had been all sweetness and light. It was here that those active during the fifties finally had to face up to the new realities. As Walt Willis wrote in his American column shortly afterwards:
"...at the annual general meeting of the BSFA it was clear what we had done. British fandom had been worried by the complete absence of channels of recruitment. Deliberately and in cold blood they had started a sercon organisation, sacrificing valuable fanning time to publish a sercon official organ, full of reviews of science fiction; in this bait was a hook consisting of reviews and reprints from fanzines.Following the convention Willis, realising that something needed to be done to heal the growing generational rift in British fandom, decided to fight a final rearguard action for the type of fandom he had known in the fifties. In April 1964 he offered to do a fanzine review column for ZENITH, and since Willis was still the most prominent fan of the day Weston eagerly accepted. The column, 'Fanorama', was a continuation of the one that had seen 40 instalments in the British SF prozine NEBULA. Unfortunately, Willis' hopes for the column were not to be fulfulled. Attitudes were already hardening and in the lettercolumn of the massive 100-page LES SPINGE 13 (edited by Dave Hale and published by Ken Cheslin) in May, London fan Leon Collins summed the situation up from the viewpoint of the newcomers:
The policy had been spectacularly successful, because the membership of the BSFA was now in the hundreds and scores of them were at Peterborough. The only trouble was that while they seemed to have eaten the bait and grown fat on it, they had ignored the hook.
This situation was starkly illustrated at that BSFA meeting after one of the founder members remarked casually and unguardedly that the purpose of the BSFA was to recruit new members to fandom. A storm of protest made it clear that this was not the purpose of the BSFA at all. Fandom as we knew it was to them a useless excrescence, our fanzines incomprehensible and irrelevant. They were fandom."
"Into fandom have suddenly bounced several highly talented and enthusiastic youngsters. They have said 'Away with all this talk of subjects fans know nothing about', and started a revival of fanzines that are serious and constructive...What happens? Along come two SF fans like Charles Platt and Pete Weston who start catering for the readers of SF who are not pseudo-intellectuals. They want to write SF and hear other fans' opinions of it. Amazed by the following these youngsters have, the 'fannish' fans make vicious attacks on them with undertones of sour jealousy.Darroll Pardoe has suggested that Collins may not have actually existed, that his letter was a fiction designed to stir things up - not that they needed stirring. There had been signs of a generation gap in fandom previously, such as the one mentioned earlier by Jim Linwood in connection with Kingdon Road and, most notably, the one involving the Junior Fanatics during the 1950s. In both cases the younger fans had, as Dave Wood had later written of the JF's, "...gradually moved into the mainstream of fandom". They had been too small in number to do otherwise, but by 1964 all that had changed. Demographics were on the side of the New Wave fans. They were the first wave of 'baby-boomers', the largest generation in history, to hit fandom, and they arrived in sufficient numbers that they could ignore the fandom that had gone before if they chose to. Feeling slighted by older fans, as new fans often do, they did - and so split British fandom down the middle, with repercussions that are still being felt today.
Already the enthusiasm of these fans has rightly earned them the control of the BSFA. Their proposed plans for it will attract more than ever the serious reader to the ranks of fandom...a fandom that might mature because of their efforts.The New Wave are putting the SF back into SF fandom."
The antagonism between new and old fans was to take up a fair bit of space in fanzines throughout the rest of the year. BEYOND 6, for example, carried a piece by Archie Mercer explaining the point of view of established fans and one by Beryl Henley with the complaints of the newcomers. Henley was already in her late-30s when she discovered fandom, and made the (sometimes forgotten) point that in fandom the generation you find yourself a part of is often not a matter of your chronological age but of when you arrived. In view of what was to happen between them later, it's ironic that it should be these two who represented the opposing positions.
Following REPETERCON, TAFF delegate Wally Weber travelled the country meeting various groups of fans. To commemorate the weekend Weber spent in Worcester, Pete Weston published a six page one-shot titled THE KENCON.
SKYRACK 66 (April '64), carried the result of the annual fan poll and HYPHEN tied with SKYRACK itself as Best British Fanzine of 1963, Brian Varley's 'Machiavarley' tying with Willis' 'Warblings' as Best Column (both appeared regularly in Lindsay's SCOTTISHE), Willis as Best Fanwriter for the third year running, and ATom as Best Fanartist for the fifth. ATom stood for TAFF in 1964, beating out Phil Rogers to win a trip to that year's Worldcon in San Francisco. (Unable to locate voting figures, unfortunately.)
In ALIEN 8 (Apr'64), the editors proudly announced that circulation had risen from 50 for the first issue to 250 for this one. They also apologised for having slipped from a monthly to a bi-monthly schedule, but intended to rectify this with the help of those they hoped to recruit for their proposed Salford Science Fiction Society. The ad ALIEN carried for this group stated that:
"We want to have our own headquarters, large enough for magazine production and film making, and for this we ask everyone with a keen interest in SF and Fantasy, who would like to help form a SF group with a difference, to contact us..."A CHILD'S GARDEN OF OLAF, from Ken Cheslin in April, was a collection of cartoons by Mike Higgs (with captions by Cheslin) featuring 'Olaf', a creation of Cheslin's. Olaf was a Viking and his doings were very similar to those of 'Hagar the Horrible', but he predated that strip by some years. This was a one-off zine, though Cheslin would use the title again in the 1980s and 1990s. In April and May, Arthur Thomson edited the first and second issue of SCENE, a fanzine produced under the auspices of SFCoL and intended as a publicity release on London's bid for the 1965 Worldcon. There were no further issues. HARLEQUIN, a 70-page one-off that appeared in May, was the final collaboration between Thomson and John Berry. May also saw the publication of the one-off 'QUOTECARDS ANYONE?', a report on REPETERCON, from Langdon Jones. This was Jones' final fanzine. NEW WORLDS 143 (July/Aug'64) - the second issue to be edited by Mike Moorcock - was the first to publish a piece by Jones, and thereafter he became a regular contributor of both fiction and articles. A third issue of the hoax SKYHACK also appeared in May, as did SLIMY 1 from one P.F. Alderson Smith. This announced the formation of the Rugby School SF Society and was intended to become the club's official organ. Whether club or organ ever developed further is unknown.
VECTOR 26 (May'64) was the first to be edited by Roger Peyton, and carried the news that Charles Platt intended practicing what he had been preaching. It announced that he was organising a round-robin letter and also setting up the Publishing and Distribution Service (PADS). This was for would-be fan editors without access to printing facilities of their own and was open to all BSFA members. There would be no fee - though everyone would have to pay for their own materials, of course. All the aspiring editors had to do was send in their material all neatly written up, then Doreen Parker would type the necessary stencils and Platt would run the fanzine off for them. This would then be distributed with the next PADS mailing in due course. PADS, then, was Britain's third apa, and apart from its peculiarities of production it operated much like any other apa, with mailing comments, regular mailings, and the like.
ZENITH 5 (June '64), continuing that fanzine's rapid development, sported a superb Eddie Jones cover and an improving graphic sense, and at 50 pages was the longest issue to date. At the end of its fanzine listings was a small ad for a projected new fanzine, LOST WORLDS, that would "be quite thick, and will deal more with fantasy than with science fiction". LOST WORLDS may not have appeared, but in the decades to come more was to be heard of its would-be editor, D West.
By the time ALIEN 9 (June'64) was published, the Salford Science Fiction Society had been formed - only now it was called the Northern Science Fiction & Fantasy Group. According to 'NSSFG Report One' in that issue, the group officially came into being on Wednesday 28th April, with Charles Partington as its Chairman, Tom Holt its Secretary, and Tony Edwards its Treasurer. They found a room over a fish-and-chip shop to serve as their clubroom, which they then proceeded to furnish with anything they could get their hands on cheaply, and to decorate the walls with posters, bookshelves, and the like. The second NSFFG meeting brought three new members - all girls - and the group soon settled into a routine that included regular showings of silent 8mm films on their cine equipment. The fish-and-chip shop clubroom did not last long and in ALIEN 10 (Aug'64), Partington reported that the NSFFG now had a new clubroom "almost in the heart of Manchester". The group would quickly grow, and the membership soon included Joyce Tarrant, Dave Trengrove, Colin Britch, and Marjorie Williams.
In Newcastle the enthusiasm of Phil Harbottle, a new fan devoted to the works of John Russell Fearn (he published zines devoted to JRF in 1964 and 1965), sparked new life into the long-dormant North East Science Fiction Society, and during the summer NESFS stalwart Jim Marshall put out the eighth issue of GESTALT. It was the first new issue in years...and unfortunately also the last. With Alan Burns' NORTHLIGHT having ceased publication a few months earlier there was now no-one in the North East producing a regular fanzine. In reality, NESFS as an SF group had faded away years earlier, but a number of those who had been members still met at the Lambton Arms every Monday evening for what had become an old friends' drinking session. At some point, NESFS had set up the 'Publicity Sub-Committee' to attract new members, and when NESFS faded away those who still met at the Lambton Arms christened themselves the 'Sublicity Pub Committee' and carried on with their socialising.
New fanzines continued to appear, and July brought SHUDDER from Mike Higgs and HYDRA ("incorporating ANDROMEDA and ADVANCE NEWS") from old-time fan Peter Campbell, who mixed discussion of SF with political pieces and who deliberately sought out a worldwide audience, with the result that later issues of HYDRA carried letters from places such as Turkey, Ghana, and the USSR. Chris Priest published his first fanzine, CON, in August 1964. The second, and final, issue appeared the following February. CON carried amateur fiction by such as Charles Platt, fannish anecdotes by Priest, and the like. Overall, it was considerably more accomplished than some of its contemporaries and when reviewing the first issue in LES SPINGE 14, Jim Linwood called it: "one of the best first ishs for many years, displaying a maturity that is usually reached only by the fourth or fifth ish".
Over the weekend of 1st - 2nd August 1964, the German National Convention - held that year at Castle Marquartstein in Southern Bavaria - became the first foreign convention to be attended by a sizeable contingent of British fans. This came about when members of the Liverpool Group decided to attend the con, and others followed suit. The Liverpool entourage consisted of Norman and Ina Shorrock and their children, Norman Weedall, Eddie Jones, John Humphries and John Roles. Non-LiGgers included Ethel Lindsay, Peter Mabey, Dave Barber, Archie Mercer, Brian Burgess, George Locke, and Tony & Simone Walsh with their young daughter, Sarah. Roles later wrote the trip up for issue 36 of his OMPAzine, MORPH.
Arthur Thomson was in America on his TAFF trip in August/September, and attended the 1964 Worldcon, PACIFICON, in San Francisco. This was, as always, held over Labor Day weekend - the first in September - and it was here that the London bid won the 1965 Worldcon. It was also here that a feud which had been brewing in American fanzines for months came to a head...and split US fandom. Usually referred to as 'the Boondoggle', the affair started early in 1964 when one of the PACIFICON committee alleged that a certain well known fan had committed immoral acts with children and so would not be allowed to attend the convention. No law-suits had been brought against the fan concerned (nor were any) so those who termed themselves 'the Opposition' argued that a fan could not be barred from a convention on the basis of an unsubstantiated allegation, one that some felt had been motivated purely by personal animosity. Those on the other side took the view that if there was even a suspicion the allegation was justified then the committee not only had a moral but probably a legal obligation to bar the fan in question from an event where minors would be present. Most of the major American fans of the day found themselves on one side of the argument or the other, in a situation where no middle ground existed between the two positions. It was a recipe for disaster, and that was exactly what resulted. Lines were drawn, many harsh words were exchanged, and the Boondoggle left a legacy of bitterness that it would take American fandom many years to recover from. In the wake of the Boondoggle many of the major US fanzines folded and, in the cooling of fannish activity that followed, the US-UK link that had been so vibrant a part of fandom during the 1950s became a pale shadow of what it had been.
According to VECTOR 28 (Sept'64), as the result of an ad placed in the Science Fiction Book Club's monthly newsletter the dozen or so membership enquiries a week the BSFA usually received had suddenly increased five-fold. Unfortunately, Rod Milner had had to resign as Secretary so an urgent plea for a replacement was included. In SKYRACK 70 meanwhile, it was reported that Keith Freeman was reviving the defunct 'Most Noble and Illustrious Order of St. Fantony' (dormant since Bob Richardson's death in 1963) for the London Worldcon, and that Liverpool Group members had travelled over to Salford a second time to help the Delta Group with the filming of 'Castle of Terrors' (aka 'Frankenstein and the Revolting Peasants'). Given LiG's long interest in amateur film, in the form of Mersey and Deeside Productions, the link-up between the two groups was inevitable.
Also in September, OMPA held its annual elections. Ethel Lindsay and Ron Bennett remained Editor and Treasurer respectively, and Ella Parker replaced Bruce Burn as President. Membership stood at 50, and the page-count in the previous year had totalled 1108. OMPA had now been going for ten years, and its total page-count for its first decade was a very impressive 12667. All was not well, however. The previous year's page-count was the lowest since OMPA's very first year, and was the second fall in a row. In BURP! 24, in the December mailing, editor Ron Bennett published impressively detailed statistics on OMPA's first ten years-worth of mailings. According to his figures, UK membership had over the years dropped inexorably from 89.2% of the total in 1954/55 to 36% in 1963/64. US membership had progressively risen during the same period from 5.4% of total to 56%. The US rise may have been partially due to the then huge waiting lists for membership in FAPA and SAPS, the two main American apas (this would also explain the similar rise in US representation in IPSO), but the UK drop was due to those members being lost to natural attrition not being replaced by new UK members. The situation was about to be exacerbated by the appearance of an alternative that was to prove more attractive to newcomers.
Though some of the zines it contained were ready in June, the first PADS mailing didn't appear until October. It included fanzines by Newcastle's John Barfoot (BUMBLIE), Graham Hall (DOUBT), Charles Platt (INSOMNIA), Beryl Henleyand and Mary Reed (LINK), Peter Weston (NEXUS), and Charlie Winstone (with WHIM, and NADIR 3 - the first two issues having been general-circulation and edited by Weston). Hall had previously been critical of the efforts of those who produced fanzines, but after doing DOUBT, and discovering for himself what was involved, he never did another, confining himself to things such as book reviews for VECTOR. LINK anounced itself to be a 'femme-fanzine', a sort of successor to FEMIZINE (a position it soon abandoned), and contained the first of Mary Reed's 'Tribe-X' stories. These were a fan-fiction variation, with Reed, her friends, and a number of famous rock stars appearing in the tales under various pseudonyms (Reed herself appeared as 'Mushling', after the real-life life nickname, 'Mushy', she had acquired from a character in TV's 'Rawhide'). Most of the zines in this first mailing were quite promising, all also seeing some distribution outside, and it looked like PADS might have a bright future ahead of it.
Reflecting their interest in horror, the Delta Group held their third annual Halloween party, open to all ALIEN readers as usual, in October 1964. It attracted such out-of-towners as Brian Allport, John Roles, Ramsey Campbell, and Charles Platt. The group also decided to change their name. In the DSFFG report in ALIEN 11, Harry Nadler explained that at their regular Friday night meetings:
"...there was little done that a science fiction group would be expected to do...in fact SF films were nearly always the most talked-about subjects. Someone also pointed out that the Delta Group and the NSFFG were almost one and the same thing, so what was the point of running a 'ghost' group...all the members of the NSFFG were more interested in producing SF'ish films than anything else. The decision was reached and Delta's name took over that first letter, making the group the Delta Science Fantasy Film Group."In that same report, Nadler also welcomed new members Peter Day and Bill Burns. Burns' induction was a little odd in that he was put on to Nadler by his milkman! This had come about when, already a BSFA member, he was searching out SF in a street market and the vendor, who was also his milkman, noted his interest and told him about this local group he had heard of.
SKYRACK 71 (Oct'64) reported that Arthur Thomson has returned from the US and had enjoyed himself despite having had almost $100, some sterling, and his wristwatch stolen from his room while he was at PACIFICON. Within days of his return, ATom was involved in a three-car pile-up in London, but though his car was a write-off he escaped unscathed. His 94-page trip report, ATOM ABROAD, would eventually see print the following year. Also back in the country was Brian Aldiss, who was feeling "out of touch" following a trip to Yugoslavia, and so had decided to quit as BSFA President. This was reported that same month in VECTOR 29, as was the news that Graham Bullock had taken over as BSFA Secretary, a job Charles Platt and Doreen Parker had both volunteered for. It also reported that the last ever meeting at Ella Parker's flat would be on Friday 18th December 1964. This would cut regular fan-gatherings in the capital by a third, leaving only the first-Thursday Globe nights and the invitation-only SFCoL meetings.
Ella Parker had decided to discontinue the Friday night gatherings at her flat during the autumn. Following the demise of the Kingdon Road slanshack during the spring and the loss of its residents (Kingdon Road was only a twenty minute walk from Parker's flat, and so very convenient for them) the meetings had started to go downhill, and though old regulars such as Ted Forsyth, Jimmy Groves, Peter Mabey, and Norman Sherlock continued to turn up, the increasingly regular absences by others such as ATom and Pat Kearney contributed to the decline. In addition, a younger contingent made up of newcomers to the meetings such as Charles Platt, Terry Pratchett, Peter White, Dave Busby, David Orme, and Steve Moore, tended to use them as their own meeting place and to talk mainly among themselves, ignoring the older fans. All this doubtless influenced Parker's decision, though she also claimed that too much damage was occurring. The date of the final meeting was fixed and, not caring for the alternative meeting place suggested - a hall at the bottom of the block of flats Parker lived in - the others began searching for a proper club-room.
Following a busy five weeks search, Mike Moorcock and Langdon Jones found the perfect place, a house whose rent was only Ukp4 per week, paid quarterly in advance, the occupier committing himself to paying the rent for 3 years. When this was announced at the next meeting at Ella Parker's there was wild enthusiasm. Coincidentally, Ted Tubb turned up at the meeting and he soon knocked out a 'Club House Circular' on Parker's typewriter, addressed the meeting at length on how easy it should be to raise the necessary funds, and formed a committee - called 'Group '65' (a name soon appropriated by the cine-enthusiassts among the younger London fans) - to organise things. Inspired by this enthusiasm, Platt ran off 120 copies of a circular publicising the idea and posted them out. SKYRACK 72 (Nov'64) reported that London Fandom was finally getting together to buy a club-house and that shares in the project could be obtained from Mike Moorcock for Ukp1, but by the time the announcement appeared the project had died.
In the first issue of his fanzine GARBISTAN, which was distributed with the second PADS mailing in December, Platt told the whole sad story of the club-house project. Moorcock had made few further appearances at the Parker meetings, responded vaguely to letters from Platt enquiring about the project, and had finally admitted that he hadn't received sufficient response to feel happy about committing himself to a three-year lease. As always, London fandom's apathy was asserting itself. Platt made a final attempt to get another flyer out but it was clear that everyone's enthusiasm had ebbed and nobody could be roused to help. Once again the dream of a club-house for London fandom had come to nothing. Oddly enough, the Birmingham Group were also actively seeking a clubroom of their own at this point as well, and in December issued a 'press-release' canvassing support. Alas, this too came to nothing.
The final Friday night gathering at Ella Parker's, on 18th December 1964, was used by Chris Priest and Dicky Howett as an opportunity to shoot some footage for a film they were working on. Styling themselves 'Chimera Films', and with Charles Platt directing, they had been shooting for some weeks, using such unlikely locations as the roof garden at Derry & Tom's, a London department store. Their film was to be a 'documentary' about fandom "showing the metamorphosis of an SF reader through the stages of neofandom into trufandom". They managed to get some filming done, but soon had to stop as the party whirl got going. The party was in full swing, new fans and old apparently getting along well, when it came to an abrupt end. According to Priest, in CON 2:
"It was unfortunate that so many years of fannish happiness should have to end on a sour note. Ella, apparently spoiling for a fight, suddenly ticked off Charles Platt for stepping on her settee. In the embarrassed silence that followed, she accused him of making snide asides and muttering comments. The images whirled to a halt, the party was suddenly over. With a feeling of flatness, most of us left in disgust. To round off the festivities, Ella screamed at us to make less noise, for fear of waking the neighbours."Platt disputes this version of events:
"I was an abrasive character in British fandom; I do not deny it. I was a teenage male virgin, sublimating my sexual frustration into aggressive antisocial behaviour, and many people regarded me as bad news. None of this do I deny. But the one thing I never, ever did was step on Ella Parker's couch. I despised Ella Parker's tastes and values. I took advantage of her hospitality and probably disturbed her monthly social meetings by being a bit loud with my friends. Unfortunately, she chose to express her dislike of me by accusing me of something I did not do, and she made this her excuse for closing down meetings that were dear to the hearts of some London fans at that time. I don't feel it's fair to hold me responsible for spoiling their fun."Thus ended the Friday night open-house at Ella's. The following night, Rog Peyton threw an Xmas party in Birmingham, and a number of the younger fans who had been at Ella's made their way up there to celebrate with the Birmingham Group, some of them setting out to hike directly from Ella's. Priest and Howett wrote about their experience as filmmakers in CON 2. Their film would now be a valuable record of early 1960s fandom, but according to Priest it no longer exists.
By the time ALIEN 12 (Dec'64) appeared, the Delta Group were meeting three nights a week and had acquired new members Marie Rothwell, Dave Stringer, Dave Cash, and Don Poole. The group were also in post-production on their next film, 'Castle of Terrors' and were soon to start work on their version of 'The War of the Worlds'. Newcomer Peter Day had written the script for a film called 'Breathworld' (a parody of Harry Harrison's 'Deathworld') that they were considering producing for the Worldcon. By the following issue, 'Breathworld' had moved up in the production schedule and was now definitely the group's main feature for the Worldcon. Not that the Delta Group were the only ones who had planned to produce a film for the Worldcon. As SKYRACK 75 reported:
"Following time lost because of snow, secretary Charles Smith's move to Bury St.Edmunds, and an accident which laid low director Ivor Mayne, the London cine enthusiasts, Group '65, have shelved their Worldcon feature film, NIGHTWORLD. There is the possibility of a shorter film being made for the Worldcon."In VECTOR 30 (Jan'65), it was announced that Chris Priest had conceived a new BSFA department - the fanzine library. This was to be operated by Mike Turner of Birmingham as a lending service along the lines of the BSFA's SF library, and in order to get it going fanzine editors were being asked to donate fanzines. Also from the BSFA in January came the first issue of TANGENT, a fanzine edited by Rog Peyton and devoted entirely to amateur fiction. This was published in response to members' requests for fiction in VECTOR, as a more appropriate forum than the BSFA's official organ. There was a second issue, edited by Chris Priest in September, after which publication of TANGENT was suspended.
HYPHEN and LES SPINGE were the only examples of the old style of fannish genzine still being published in the UK by this point, but not without problems. LES SPINGE was succumbing to the 'bigger-and-better' syndrome. Issue 13, which had appeared in May 1964, had had a stellar line-up of contributors including Walt Willis, John Berry, Michael Moorcock, and many of the up-and-coming new fans of the day. It was also 100-pages long and was collated in two volumes. LES SPINGE 14 (Jan'65) weighed in at 106-pages, - with an equally impressive list of contributors that included Moorcock, Berry, Jim Cawthorn, Charles Platt, and George O.Smith - and it finally killed off its production team. This 'Black Spinge' (so-called because of its black covers) was assembled using a power-drill and metal binding-straps, an arduous process that led to it being collated and mailed at the rate of about three copies a week. Despite this exhausting effort the zine drew an extremely poor response, prompting Dave Hale and Ken Cheslin to quit. However, while Cheslin remained active Hale dropped out of fandom entirely, a decision aided by pressure of university work and of his forthcoming marriage. Their LES SPINGE was in many ways the flagship of that generation of fans who entered fandom between the formation of the BSFA and the birth of the New Wave and, according to Jim Linwood:
"Had Dave not dropped out of fandom in 1965, I feel he would have become a major figure in international fandom and LES SPINGE would almost certainly have won a Hugo...something Pardoe said when he took over LS. Although it's not so obvious in retrospect, in the last few LS Dave edited it was taking on the collective persona of the growing maturity of our generation of fans; had he stayed with it he may well have become a Willis figure of the '60s...."Darroll Pardoe would later take over as editor and start putting out a thinned-down LES SPINGE, but it was never again to be quite the fanzine it had been. Nor was HYPHEN long for this world.
Walt Willis' revived 'Fanorama' column made four appearances in Peter Weston's ZENITH between June '64 and March '65. The first two had contained cautiously approving reviews of BEYOND and ALIEN. The third, however, contained a less than wholly favourable review of Beryl Henley's LINK, and produced a storm of protest. The final column contained no reviews but talked instead about the entire communications breakdown in British fandom and explained how 'Fanorama' had been revived as an attempt to help towards a reconciliation. It was a doomed hope. Weston recalls:
"What was really happening was that some fannish newcomers were rather painfully beginning to discover the meaning of Standards; but...the new generation had unfortunately arrived at a time when the overall level of quality had reached an all-time low. Thus poor Walt was acting as mentor but was heavily outnumbered by his pupils and consequently was taking all their chafing and complaining upon his own shoulders..."Indeed. With the departure of most of those who had been his friends, Willis found himself confronted by a hostile British fandom that no longer seemed to have any place for him. HYPHEN 36 (Feb '65) proved to be the last (though there would be a single-issue revival in the 1980s) and thereafter Willis confined his activity to the occasional article for an American fanzine. As he explained to Weston in a letter a year or so later:
"As for the column, I felt less and less that I had anything to say to your readership. Not only had I gone off contemporary English fandom, apart from yourself, but I no longer read contemporary science fiction."In SKYRACK 76 (Mar '65), editor Ron Bennett, citing lack of time, announced that he was resigning from the 1965 Worldcon committee. This issue also carried the results of the current TAFF race to choose an American fan to attend that selfsame con. Terry Carr won out over Jock Root and Bill Donaho by 207 votes to 114 and 89 respectively. The UK part of that vote was 39, 19 and 18. SKYRACK 77 (Apr '65) carried the poll results for British fan activity the previous year, with SKYRACK the Best Fanzine (ZENITH came second), Walt Willis the Best Fan Writer (for the fourth straight year), and ATom as Best Fan Artist (for the sixth straight year).
The 1965 Eastercon, BRUMCON 2, was held at the Midland Hotel in Birmingham over the weekend of 16-19th April. Harry Harrison was GoH, and the committee consisted of Charlie Winstone, Rog Peyton, Mike Higgs, and Ken Cheslin. Cheslin held the positions of Treasurer, Secretary, and Chairman. According to the programme book, 117 people were members, but this didn't tell the whole story, however. Actual attendance was probably little more than 80, and of those only 67 were registered at the Midland. This was just short of the 75 the committee needed for a 30% reduction on the cost of convention space, and there was much recrimination about how the high level of free-loading had robbed the convention of its discount. The low overall attendance was probably due to people wanting to put money away towards the Worldcon in London later that year.
The films shown were 'The Conquest of Space' and 'When Worlds Collide', and the Delta Group made a clean-sweep of the prizes for fancy dress awarded at the Saturday night "shindig". Over from the US were George Scithers, who made a plea for those going to the London Worldcon to vote for TRICON, Cleveland's bid for the 1966 Worldcon, while Dave Kyle made a similar plea on behalf of the rival bid from Syracuse.
At the BSFA AGM on the Sunday morning, the new officers elected were Roy Kay as Chairman, Joe Navin as Vice-Chairman, and Doreen Parker as Secretary. Charlie Winstone continued as Treasurer and Rog Peyton got to be VECTOR editor for a second year, but not before fighting off a challenge for the post from Charles Platt. Following a campaign that was allegedly 'dirty' on both sides, Peyton won this with a 57 to 27 vote (and that total vote shows there was quite an interest in such things at that time). Terry Jeeves won the Doc Weir Award, and Great Yarmouth was chosen as the site for the 1966 Eastercon, with Tony Walsh being given the nod for the 1967 Eastercon to be held somewhere in the West Country. Walsh suggested that Bath might be a suitable venue.
Progress reports for BRUMCON 2 had been called BRUMBLE, and each had been a fanzine in its own right. The final issue, BRUMBLE 5, was published after the con and contained a con report, various committee members' impressions, and final accounts for the con. BRUMBLE was intended to continue as the official organ of the BSFG, but never did.
Chris Priest put out the one-off YAWL-B in April (the equally oddly-titled THUD-F followed in 1966), at the same time as another London fan announced that he was giving up on fanzine publishing. BEYOND 8 (April'65) was the last issue. In his editorial, Charles Platt explained that he wanted to direct his future efforts to breaking into the professional market and thus would no longer have time to produce a fanzine. He praised the social aspects of fandom, criticised the generally low standard of its literary output, and expressed regret that its better writers were not writing for the professional market. Nonetheless, that very same month Platt published the first issue of the monthly TOMORROWSCOPE, a half-foolscap zine that was devoted entirely to book reviews, many of them scathing. The publishers, objecting to such reviews, sent Platt fewer and fewer review copies, and the fifth and final TOMORROWSCOPE appeared in August. There was also the second and final issue of GARBISTAN in May. Platt was still serious about giving up fanzines, however, and as of its July issue, number 152, became a regular contributor to NEW WORLDS. His defection was the first real set-back the New Wave experienced. It would not be the last.
In the first post-BRUMCON issue of VECTOR, number 32, Don Malcolm of Scotland's Caledonian SF Group announced that since membership lists showed that there were now enough BSFA members north of the border to justify it, the group intended to organise a one-day convention in Glasgow, to be called SCOTCON. He asked that Scottish members contact him to see if the interest was there. It wasn't, and SCOTCON was never held. In fact, there was barely enough enthusiasm to sustain the Caledonian SF Group itself, which does not appear to have survived beyond 1965. Before it folded, however, member Ivor Latto published the one-off FANKLE which appeared in July. Down south in August, Dicky Howett put out SPOT-WOBBLE. That same month, VECTOR 34 carried a request from Tom Jones of Doncaster for any fans interested in forming a group in the Sheffield/ Doncaster area to get in touch. There's no record of such a group forming, so perhaps no-one did.
With its fifteenth issue, in May, ALIEN changed its name to ALIEN WORLDS. The report inside on the Delta Group's activities revealed that the Liverpool Group would be producing the sound-track for their 'Castle of Terrors' and that latest casting on 'Breathworld' had signed up Godzilla, King Kong, and John Ramsey Campbell (!). The group were not entirely unanimous about 'Breathworld' however, and treasurer Tony Edwards had left them saying that he would not be returning until the group began work on a serious SF production towards the end of the year.
For Irish Fandom an era drew to a close in May 1965. As Walt Willis wrote in SKYRACK 79:
"On 6th May the old red brick house at 170 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, which had been the H.Q. of Irish Fandom for nearly 20 years, finally reverted to the mundane plane of existence. At a house-cooling party the occasion was marked by a simple but moving ceremony attended by all Irish fandom. In the fan attic the last ghoodminton service was solemnly performed by Bob Shaw. Symbolically, it was not returned. Instead the last shuttlecock was picked up by John Berry and reverently removed to its final resting place, a time capsule donated by Sadie Shaw. Also in the glass, cylindrical two pound capsule were deposited a copy of THE ENCHANTED DUPLICATOR (1st edition), some hyphens in printing type, used for SLANT, a dollop of duplicating ink, James White's first bow tie (symbolising the professional element of IF) and signatures of the great fans and good friends who had stayed at Oblique House during the years... The time capsule was then buried in the front lawn, underneath the cherry tree, in earth with which had been mingled the sacred soil of South Gate, donated by Rick Sneary. A fannish era had ended."In mid-1965, US fan and OMPAn Joe Gibson, an aircraft buff, decided to organise a (very) loose group of fellow SF fans who shared this particular enthusiasm. Following normal air force practice of having two flights of eight aircraft to a squadron, he assembled eight fans from the US, eight from the UK, then divided them into an 'A' and 'B' flight, their names being listed in each issue of THE DAMNED PATROL, the organ of what Gibson called 'the Fan Squadron'.
There were at least five issues of THE DAMNED PATROL, the first dated Jan/Feb 1966 and the fifth January 1967. Membership of the Fan Squadron changed somewhat over the course of those issues, and at various points included Britons Jimmy Groves, John Berry, Terry Jeeves, Ethel Lindsay, Keith Freeman, Graham Boak, Frank Arnold, George Locke, Beryl Henley, Eric Jones, Tony Glynn, Arthur Thomson, and Americans F.M.Busby, Lewis Grant, Mike McQuown, Rick Sneary, Harry Warner Jr, Betty Kujawa, and Gibson himself (who issued a set of metal wings to each member). The first and fifth issues were edited by Gibson, the second by Terry Jeeves, third by John Berry, and fourth by Beryl Henley (who by that point had married and become Beryl Mercer). As well as aircraft illustrations by ATom and Jeeves, issues contained things such as articles by Berry on aircraft spotting, Jeeves on modelling, and the revelation that Beryl Henley had changed the batteries on Hurricanes and Seafires.
On 21st August 1965, Gemini 5 was launched from Cape Kennedy. It was the first to carry fuel-cells and Astronauts Cooper and Conrad were to test them in space. It was all part of Project Gemini, the interim stage between the Mercury and Apollo projects, in which the equipment that would ultimately take men to the moon was rigorously tested. The next two Gemini craft would be launched 11-days apart,in December, and perform the first docking procedure.
LONCON II, the 23rd World Science Fiction Convention, was held at the Mount Royal Hotel in Marble Arch, London, over Bank Holiday Weekend, 27-30th August 1965. Brian Aldiss was GoH, Ella Parker was Chairman, 350 attended. The con got off to a rousing beginning the evening before it was officially due to start when some seventy or so fans gathered at the Globe. As well as the regulars and out-of-town Britons there that Thursday night were overseas visitors Dick Eney, Tom Schluck, Boyd Raeburn, Forrest J Ackerman, Dave Kyle, Ron Ellik, Terry & Carol Carr, Mack Reynolds, Poul & Karen Anderson, Jon & Joni Stopa, Bob & Barbara Silverberg, Fred & Carol Pohl, Ted White, Ben Stark, Al Lewis, Wally Weber, Don Wollheim, and Bob Bloch. Many of those at the Globe later went on to a party at Charles Platt's new London flat. Other notables to attend LONCON II proper were Judith Merrill (who would move to the UK the following year), Walter Ernsting, George Scithers, John W.Campbell and, surprisingly, Christopher Lee. Chuck Harris emerged from his gafiation to attend LONCON II, and Walt Willis made it his farewell appearance. It would be more than a decade before either attended a convention again.
LONCON II started officially at 8pm on Friday 27th when Ella Parker welcomed everyone. Programme items included Harry Harrison's talk, 'SF - The Salvation of the Modern Novel'; an item on what fandom meant to various people, 'All Things To All Fen', that featured Dave Busby, Charles Platt, Beryl Henley, Doreen Parker, and Irene Boothroyd; a transatlantic SF quiz, which ended with the US team losing to a Rest of the World team by 26 points to 20; Ted White on 'How To Plot Your Way Out of a Paper Bag'; and a Fancy Dress that was the first of its type seen in this country, with a set of awards given in formal categories and a high level of craftsmanship in the costumes.
After the Sunday evening convention banquet, Toastmaster Tom Boardman began by announcing, to great applause, that the Gemini 5 spacecraft had splashed down fifty minutes previously. He then went on to introduce GoH Brian Aldiss, who gave a funny and much appreciated speech. Next was a speech from TAFF-winner Terry Carr on the workings of the fund and how he was enjoying his trip. Terry was followed by Arthur C.Clarke, who announced that he was working on a film with Stanley Kubrick - provisionally titled 'Journey Beyond the Stars', but recently renamed '2001: A Space Odyssey' - that was due to be released around Xmas 1966, and that he hoped would become the 'Destination Moon' of the 1970s. Clarke then held up a nail from the 'Bounty' and a fragment of an Apollo heat-shield, explaining thoughtfully that less than 200 years separated them. Bob Bloch rounded the speeches off with the type of humorous talk that had been delighting US audiences for years. The Hugo Awards followed, with the Best Novel Hugo going to Fritz Lieber's 'The Wanderer', Best Short to Gordon Dickson's 'Soldier Ask Not', Best Magazine to ANALOG, Best Fanzine to US fan Buck Coulson's YANDRO (with Weston's ZENITH the runner-up - it was nominated again the following year), Best Artist to John Schoenherr, Best Publisher to Ballantine, and Best Dramatic Presentation to 'Dr.Strangelove'. At the business session the following day, the 1966 Worldcon was awarded to Cleveland.
An unprecedented 'summit' meeting of TAFF winners and administrators was held at LONCON to discuss the fund and its future. Present were Walt Willis, Ken Bulmer, Ron Ellik, Ron Bennett, Eric Bentcliffe, Ethel Lindsay, Wally Weber, Arthur Thomson, and Terry Carr - every past and present TAFF administrator, in fact, except for Bob Madle, who had been unable to get to the con, and the late Don Ford, who had died in April. The first item to be discussed was whether or not there should be a campaign to send a European fan to Cleveland in 1966 or whether the current frequency of the races could lead to voter apathy. In the event, Walt Willis' proposal that the voters be allowed to decide by a means of a 'hold over funds' option being added to the ballot was accepted. It was also decided to adopt the Australian balloting system, which provided automatic run-offs and majority winners in every case and so should do away with the discord that had been generated in previous TAFF races by the voting methods then in force. (Later, at LONCON's business meeting, the Hugo Study Committee proposed the Australian ballot for future Hugo voting, and it was duly adopted.)
Many fanzines later reported LONCON II with SKYRACK 83, published seven days after the con, being the first. The event was also reported in VECTOR 35 (Oct'65), the first of the Peyton-edited issues to be professionally printed, which informed BSFA members that Edmund Crispin was the Association's new President. Also from the BSFA in October came the first issue of the BSFA BULLETIN, which was edited by Archie Mercer and had been set up to carry news of the Association itself, and any business, and so leave VECTOR free "to concentrate on the wider aspects of the SF field". It was in many ways a continuation of the BSFA NEWSLETTER of the late-50s/early'60s. In this first issue it was announced that PADS, "previously run for the benefit of members, though unofficially, by Charles Platt", would henceforth be an official BSFA service, and run by Archie Mercer and Beryl Henley (who were soon to marry).Their first mailing, the fourth, went out the following month. Also announced was the creation of an 'International Contacts Department', run by Ed James, to foster closer relations between individual fans and fan groups internationally.
The first issue of GOTHIQUE, from editors Dave Griffiths and Stan Nicholls, two young Londoners, was produced in time to be distributed at LONCON II. Like the Delta Group before them, this pair were media fans but, unlike Delta, they were devoted to horror to the exclusion of SF, which GOTHIQUE reflected. Though it started as a duplicated zine, GOTHIQUE soon graduated to glossy paper thus enabling Nicholls and Griffiths to run stills from their favourite films. GOTHIQUE lasted twelve issues in all, the final regular appearing in October 1969 with a twentieth anniversary issue being produced in July 1985, and also spawned the 'Gothique Film Society'. Unlike the Delta Group, this society was devoted to showing horror films rather than to producing its own.
At least one new fan-group, the Bristol and District SF Group, came into existence in the wake of LONCON II. Ever since leaving Cheltenham, and the Cheltenham SF Circle, in 1960, Tony Walsh had "hankered after regular lumps of fannish company". He and Simone, his wife, used to drop in on Archie Mercer in Bristol occasionally while they were living in nearby Bridgwater. Eventually, they too found themselves living in Bristol, and it was inevitable they form a local group. Walsh invited the old Cheltenham Circle members, and Mercer various people including apprentices from nearby RAF Locking. In all, some 14 people showed up at the Walsh home for the first meeting. As Tony Walsh later recalled:
"As a stripped-down, basic fact, the BaD Group came into existence on 25th September 1965. At 9pm, to be precise, when the mob in the lounge of 61 Halsbury Road came to order long enough to vote in a few rules, agree on a sub, and plan a party."Soon after LONCON II an era of London fandom drew to a close when Lew Mordecai, the pub landlord who the London Circle had followed from the White Horse to the Globe when he was transferred there in December 1953, retired. His replacement, Eddy O'Reilly, never became as famous in fannish circles as Mordecai had been. Before he left, Mordecai gave the pub's 'Visitors Book' (which had been kept behind the bar to be produced on first Thursdays, and which contained the signatures of many famous pros and fans, living and dead) to Frank Arnold, who later wrote of Mordecai's departure and that:
"...in December another surprise and a much pleasanter one. Two brisk young men, John Pye and Keith Matthew, rolled up from University College, London, and told us of the SF circle they had formed there. Several of us accepted their invitation to go along and speak at their gatherings and it was refreshing to find another circle of SF interest besides our own."
XERON 1 (Oct'65), was the first fanzine from John Quattromini and Mike Ashley, two young fans who lived next door to each other at Sittingbourne in Kent. XERON had the same mix of material as contemporary zines but was somewhat different in that it also had a strong bibliographic element, reflecting Ashley's interests in this area. XERON was distributed via PADS from its second issue and would see seven issues in all, the last one dated December 1967. This was not Ashley's first experience with fanzines, however. He had earlier co-edited FUSION with Jim Grant, which saw four issues between January 1965 and February 1966. FUSION, too, had contained Ashley's SF lists.
The final issue of Mary Reed and Beryl (Henley) Mercer's LINK appeared in January 1966. (A one-off containing letters of comment on the issue, LINKLOX, was run through PADS later in the year.) This marked the end of the New Wave. As Pete Weston explained a year or so later:
"...as Charles Platt's enthusiasm waned, so did that of many other fans. ZENITH endured through its close contacts with US fandom and its leisurely and ordered schedule (though in a mood of gafia after the Worldcon, I announced its suspension - and changed my mind two days later!) 1965 was the high-water mark; the New Wave had gone. Further developments were only anti-climactic, and one by one the 'new-features' went out. Last to go was LINK, which folded early in '66 with no loss, since Beryl is a lot happier and more creative doing OZ, her OMPAzine, and writing for a dozen more. Today Britain has another wave of activity, but on a far smaller scale. There are no feuds, but there are no regular, large circulation new zines, and the quality of the lot of them is pretty poor. At least during those hectic days of a year or so ago, we leaped from inexperienced neo to veteran overnight, and our fanzines will bear comparison with old-time contenders...in both production and content."
Rob Hansen would welcome feedback and factual corrections, at: email@example.com
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