This zine supports BECs (Bat Eared Cons J)

I now have a web page of my own - and many thanks to Colin Harris who is designing it for me. Its intended to include issues of Babel-On there, but just now has only "Travels with my Cuddly Vulture", which I immodestly consider my best ever bit of writing, and some other bits and bears J

My page is at

Articles should be about fans, cons, travelling, and should definitely be interesting and fun to read, and not "worthy" in any sense. Anything sent to me in response to this fanzine will be assumed to be for publication, unless clearly indicated otherwise.

ELSTREE OR BUST! By Fiona Anderson



By Fiona Anderson

Elstree, home of film studios, legendary city of celluloid, so it's appropriate to start my trip here by reading Maureen's article in SB of equally lengendary Glastonbury, another place I'd always been curious about, and far more interesting to read about than finding the reality of Elstree to be so utterly banal, it being a place like almost anywhere else, and distinctly uninspiring. :(

I was there for an educational course, of which I'm saying nothing now, as I never write up my educational experiences - I'm saving them all up for when I retire, when I will write everything up dead straight, then send it to some TV scriptwriter types to turn into a sitcom, as no-one could possibly believe all the funny things that have happened to me*, though of course education has it's downside too (like my 3 months off work with stress last year, which is only too common among teachers here in the UK)

*except to mention I wandered first off into the Vauxhall conference by mistake, but they gave me coffee and bikkies before ejecting me J Our course also had coffee, but instead of bikkies had infinitely better miniature Danish pastries, yum!! :) Especially as no-one else seemed interested in them, so I was able to test a statistically significant sample of them :) :)

Meanwhile this issue of BabelOn is incredibly fannishly late, but I shan't bore you all with excuses, instead let's get straight onto what's in it this time:

First off, there's Mark's article about Intuition, this year's Eastercon, where he has fun slagging me off - wish more people could write as wittily as him! After reading it, Mike looked at me and said "somehow I can't help thinking of potaroos", and later "how is it every time I come up here to visit, I leave with a list of things to do?" You are not alone Mike, but it's all part of my charm, honest Guv! :)

Then there's Bjorn's article about funding for a possible BEC in Bergen in 2000 - as part of the Millenium celebrations, and what a great idea, so much better than having a dome stuck in Greenwich for no readily apparent purpose, that's gonna cost 800 million pounds and be torn down again a few years later - insanity, especially considering the extreme poverty surrounding that particular piece of land.

Then, if Mike gets it finished in time, we'll all be able to read his article about the Jazz Ale Affair - if he doesn't, well there's always the potaroo approach!!! :) So, now onto Mark:


Mark Plummer 15 January 1998 1340 words

"What I want," said Fiona Anderson (as I mentally appended "What I really really want"), "is something for the next issue of Babel-on which talks about Intuition. Something that's sort of informative and amusing. I thought perhaps one of you could do it." I looked at the other two who, together with me, constituted the "you" in question. Only the previous evening, Noel Collyer had been tapping an up-till-now unrecognised potential for being amusing, utilising the mirrored tables in the main bar of the Piccadilly Hotel to make a shadow puppet of a duck on the ceiling. Granted, it was actually more like a tyrannosaurus rex than a duck, and more specifically a tyrannosaurus rex with no legs, body or teeth, but everybody was agreed that it was very funny. However, Noel has frequently claimed that he can't do writing and stuff like that so perhaps he was not the best man for the job. Claire Brialey, on the other hand, whilst being equally undoubtedly *not the best man for the job* can do writing and could probably churn out a couple of dozen pages on the wonders of Intuition over breakfast while conducting the sort of complex international negotiation on environmental matters that her job entails at the same time and all this without even getting marmalade in the laptop. But Claire is, of course, a committee member of Intuition and can hardly be said to be unbiased. And so it seems the task falls to me. As a lowly staff member I am free to speak my mind about Intuition, the 1998 British Easter Science Fiction Convention. I can say whatever I like. I looked at Fiona who was smiling sweetly. Of course, I am also qualified to talk about Intuition because I am in _no way_ intimidated by Fiona Anderson. Good gracious no. I did however think briefly of potoroos. The potaroo is a small rabbit-sized Tasmanian marsupial which is officially classified as "at risk". This is because, when left to their own devices, male potoroos tend to go rip each other's genitals off. I wondered whether, if I were a potoroo, I would rather face another male potoroo or Fiona Anderson. I looked at Fiona smiling sweetly...

We were in Manchester to check out the venue for Intuition, to size it all up mentally and try to find all those little features which aren't actually on the hotel's plans and which, if they aren't identified beforehand, pop up to confound you on the day. The pillars in the middle of rooms, stuff like that. It was to give those of us working on the convention a chance to get a feel for the place, "To experience the space, man", as convention chair Fran Dowd put it, affecting a style from a decade that I am sure she is not old enough to remember. And so we came, from all points of the compass but mostly from Sheffield, to Manchester: City of Science Fiction. OK, a tad optimistic perhaps but it is the birth-place of award-winning writer Jeff Noon and, er, Paul Kincaid. There has been an organised science fiction fandom in Manchester since 1938. It last hosted the Eastercon in 1976, when Mancon V was held at Owen's Park. Before that, it had been the SuperMancon of 1954. Two conventions, both memorable in their own ways. It is, so far as I'm aware, pure coincidence that Manchester conventions take place at twenty-two year intervals but the cycle has come round again and Intuition will be held in the Britannia and Piccadilly Hotels in the city centre over the Easter weekend this year.

Yes, Britannia and Piccadilly Hotels. Two of them. This is a bit of a departure, I know: many Eastercons use overflow hotels for bedrooms but here we're looking at two hotels for function space, something which hasn't been tried since Yorkcon III in 1985. However, despite having two hotels, the intention is to try to avoid creating ghettos - all the various specialist areas that constitute an Eastercon should, as far as possible, be integrated across both venues. The Piccadilly is a fairly modern hotel which, from the outside, looks truly horrible: a real concrete monstrosity. Inside, however, it's been renovated within the last few years and looks quite plush, with decor and general appearance that are probably better than the average for Eastercon venues. The Piccadilly will house the really big programme items, the dealers' rooms and the costumers. The Britannia is just across the road- the two hotels are linked almost door-to-door by a pedestrian crossing - and is much older. The interior decoration, heavy in gold and blue, is in a style which has been termed "Nouveau Bordello" and the general layout has a bit more, er, character than the Piccadilly. This manifests itself, for instance, in the fact that about a quarter of the rooms don't actually have any windows and substitute a picture of a cityscape hidden behind a curtain. The city if question is actually New York so be prepared for a shock in the morning. Oh, and it's got a zebra. The Britannia will house the film programme, the art show and gaming rooms. Other programming will be spread across the two venues. As for the location, well, it's a city centre. The hotels are perched on the edge of the China Town district and there's no shortage of restaurants - many of which, you'll be unsurprised to hear, are Chinese - and pubs in the immediate vicinity plus, of course, the hotels' own facilities (the Britannia is part of the same chain as the Liverpool Adelphi and so offers the same range of restaurant facilities). But you are of course curious about what will actually be going on. What will be going on, you ask. Difficult to say, I reply. Well, why don't you get somebody in who can answer the goddamn question, you riposte. Ah, but it's not as simple as that, say I, as, whilst there's an awful lot of work that's been done on the programme already, it's all still, you know, in a state of flux. And anyway, I continue, shall we stop this kind of interior dialogue and switch back to something more conventional? Good idea, you say. But what can I say? Well, based on what's kicking about at the moment, Intuition has a programme which hasn't actually lost sight of the source material, as it were. It's about that stuff... thingy... what do you call it?... ah, yes, science fiction. It has a good guest line- up. Ian McDonald and Connie Willis have both made a significant impact on the genre within the last ten years and attracted a fair bit of critical acclaim as well as, in Willis's case, an impressive stack of awards. And Martin Tudor has fingers stuck into so many pies - as fanzine editor, co-publisher of Critical Wave, and numerous convention committees in just about every capacity imaginable - that he has in fact run out of fingers and started using toes as well. Buy him a drink - with a straw. The two hotels offer a wide range of rooms. The International Suite in the Piccadilly is big, with plenty of room for participants and spectators at events like the masquerade. Other halls like The Crystal Suite (Britannia) and The Subsidiarity (the back part of the International Suite which takes it name from the only recorded example of an EU negotiators' joke, courtesy of Claire) will do for two- or three hundred person items and there are further rooms for between eight and eighty people. And an art show, and a dealers' room and... and... But I'm wary of making too many specific claims, even at this stage. Hostages to fortune are best avoided. I'll simply say: come to Intuition. Experience the space, man.

And I am also conscious of the fact that this article if probably overdue. I am thinking of Fiona Anderson, sitting there and - no doubt - smiling sweetly. And I am not thinking of potoroos at all. Or coypus.

Well, yes, I am smiling sweetly, but not because of contemplating potoroos (or coypus - and don't ask me, it's a Croydon thing!), no indeed not. Instead I am contemplating the fact that my minions have done most of the hard work now - I utterly believe in delegation - they get to shine and I get to laze around looking wise :)

I've got me German money, booked me plane ticket, and will be off to - oh, Germany, I guess! Well, I enjoyed SF Tage last year, and Mike's it's agent this year, and it's always good to have an excuse to swan off somewhere - last year my visit coincided with my return to work about a week earlier after a three month absence, so I was MORE than glad to have somewhere to swan off to then! But now I've seen it once, I'm looking forward to seeing a bit more of it this time - you never know, I might even go to the Programme!! ;)

I was starting to get a bit worried at the travel agents - they'd sold out of all seats on the flight back on Sunday, and were hunting round desperately for all sorts of weird connections - via Amsterdam, adding an extra couple of hours, via Belgium adding an extra ten hours!! And so forth, then they found me a later flight that was a special offer, so in the end I paid considerably less for my ticket and got a better flight time too :)

Then in August, it's off to NaSaCon in Sweden - where Mike is FGOH, and which I am really looking forward to indeed, as I've never been to Sweden before, so it should be a bit of an adventure. Especially if the food even remotely resembles Herman's list ;)

Well, with that sort of roundabout introduction, onto Bjorn and his BEC hopes. There's been an awful lot of talk about BECs, and a lot of verbal support for the idea - well it would be so nice to work with other Europeans on a more regular basis, and to swan around all the various countries - but the major sticking point has always been the money. Bjorn, as you will read, has thought of a way round that, and I certainly wish him every success!!

So, onto Bjorn:

The frustrations of fund-raising Working towards a BEC in Bergen, Norway By Bjorn Tore Sund,

I want to run a BEC. To some extent, it has become something of a dream to me to run a BEC. The one big problem these days is that I might just end up running a BEC. Something I had never figured on happening. There are practical problems, con-running is expensive in Norway, and besides, I was certain that there was a severe shortage in competent manpower. Surprise! The shortage in competent manpower wasn't. I have the committee I want and need. Practical problems have started solving themselves, helped by same committee. And unless we're very careful, we might end up solving the question of money as well. A BEC, with me as chair? In Bergen, of all places? It's gone from something of a dream, to something I am going to have to come up with a very good excuse to get out of. If that is at all possible at this stage. :) It started in May 1997. I accidentally heard of a meeting that was to take place. Bergen had been made *European Cultural City* for the year 2000. With no idea what that entailed, but nothing better to do that afternoon, I dropped by the meeting. I didn't regret that. Not immediately, anyway, though I think I might be starting to now. The latter feeling will probably increase, I fear, as time passes. The European Union, the Norwegian government, and the Bergen municipality is putting a lot of money into making a large number of cultural events take place in Bergen in 2000. So I bought the speaker at that meeting a beer, after finding out that he was in fact in charge of the whole *Bergen as a European Cultural City* project. I even made the man admit he was an SF fan. Then I started thinking about how to get some of that money for running a BEC. And the ball is rolling. The organisation below the committee level is starting to form. Programme ideas are starting to pop up. There are people just dying to get started with the local promotion. The only, and consequently biggest, major problem is that we are still not confirmed as a major partner in the Cultural City project. We know that we'll get funding. But unless we are given status as a major partner, that funding will be minimal, and far from sufficient for the sort of project we have in mind. That decision will be made in March, and after having handed in a ten-page project description in December, quite a bit of effort will now be going into lobbying. The Cultural City project is run by a large representative board of representatives from organisations that were originally enlisted as *founding organisations* of the whole project. And yes, several of those organisations should be possible to influence into taking a positive stand. What our status really is? We haven't the foggiest notion. The Cultural City staff isn't telling anyone until mid- to late March. The representative board hasn't been included in the work yet. And we're stuck in limbo, unable to proceed with either site or additional financing before we start getting signals on our status back - which presumably won't happen until March. The only thing we do know is that if the con ends up happening, it will happen in the spring, April or May 2000, most likely. I'm an optimist, but then I was born an optimist, so that doesn't really count. The fact of the matter is that we have no idea whether or not we'll be doing a BEC in the year 2000 or not. But we're hoping. What we're doing now, apart from lobbying for that money, is building an organisation, contemplating the con focus and main programme ideas, and in general trying to figure out how we're going to pull this off. Let's face it, though the committee is creative and relatively experienced as far as organisational work is concerned, several of the members have never been involved in SF fandom. Norwegian fandom is too small to have room for all the people who might otherwise be interested in involving themselves, and we're including everyone in Bergen vaguely connected to SF-related activity in this project. But we're still going to need help from experienced fans, people who knows the particular quirks and problems that are special to SF conventions. Recruitment to the first BEC ever has started!

Careful readers will have noticed by now that Mike has not finished his article on the Jazz Ale event - an article I was particularly looking forward to, as these events have only just started using ops room techniques - after an initial scepticism, they are apparently now converts, and I would have liked to read about the evolution of that from the beginning. The Ale or Jazz wouldn't have interested me, as I don't usually drink (the events of InterVention are all a blur to me!) and am not a great Jazz fan - indeed can't say I'd listened to any before seeing the "Beiderbecke Tapes" TV series, which was fun, but not for the jazz content.

So, the question is, should I use a potoroo or just improvise? A complicating factor in all this is that Mike is one of the three people currently being me, and I'm not into masochism myself :) Mike claims that in order to practise being me he has to eat vast quantities of chocolate and marzipan, try out bear-sniffing, and indulge in senseless acts of cruelty involving bashing with bears. I maintain he won't have got it sussed until he is the one whom other people leave the presence of, clutching their lists of things to do, without quite knowing how that happened! :)

Next are details of cons mentioned above:

INTUITION, Eastercon 1998, 10-13 April 1998, Manchester This is going to be fun!!!! (Well I would say that wouldn't I!!!)

Eastercons are increasingly attended by fans from outside the UK, and have a pleasant social atmosphere, as well as plenty on the programme, due to being the biggest regular cons in Europe. It's a while since an Eastercon has visited Manchester, where there's plenty to see and do.=20

Accommodation in the convention hotel can be booked via the convention tself (enabling you to take advantage of the special rates negotiated by us), which is to be recommended as it adds to the atmosphere, but you can also book your own accomodation independently, and Manchester Tourist Board will provide an Accomodation Guide and a City Guide on request - their telephone number is 0161 234 3157, though of course you need to add the country code first.


UK: INTUITION, 1 Waverly Way, Carshalton Beeches, Surrey SM5 3LQ German Agent: Juergen Marzi, Scharnhorststr 27, D56073 Koblenz Croat Agent: Igor Tabak, Srebrnjak 62, 10000 Zagreb Eire Agent: Brendan Ryder, 30 Beverley Down, Templeogue, Dublin 16 French Agent: Tom Clegg, 9 rue Arthur Rozier, 75019 Paris The Netherlands Agent: Nico Veenkamp, Aart van der Leeuwkade 83, 2274 LB Voorburg Turkish Agent: N. Cenk Gokce, Tufan Sokak 12, Yenimahalle, Ankara 06170 USA Agent: Sharon Sbarsky, PO box 453, Needham, MA 02194 Attending Membership GBP 35 until two weeks before the convention, when postal memberships will no longer be accepted. The on the door rate will be GBP 40 for full Attending Membership Web address

SCIENCE FICTION TAGE NRW March 21-22 1998 To be held in the Harenberg City-Center Building, Dortmund, Germany GOHs Alan Dean Foster, Mark Brandis Includes workshops, discussions, presentations, and shows Contacts: email post: Science Fiction Tage e.V., Friedhofstrasse 2, D-45478 Muelheim an der Ruhr, Germany telephone: 0049 208 59 28 90 Attending membership: DM 45 until Dec 12th, DM 50 to Mar 15th, DM 50 on the door DM 40 for all students, unemployed, and those receiving welfare benefit. Bank transfers to Stadtsparkasse Dortmund, Account no 371 005 811, Bank sort code 440 501 99

SF Tage=92s UK Agent: Mike Cheater email: post: 42 Elm Grove, Southsea, Portsmouth, England Attending membership GBP 20, cheques payable to "German Conventions"

NAVIGATOR 1998 / Saltsjo-Con XV - August, 1st-2nd in Fisksatra (Saltsjobaden - Stockholm - Sweden) The Navigator Convention is currently one of Sigma TC's main projects. It has a tradition which dates back to our first NaSaCon in 1980. Some members of the first con-committee are still working with the convention today. It is a minor, relaxed, low-budget summerconvention. Since 1997 the main program is held in English language and is oriented towards European and international fandom. Our aim is to strengthen Swedish fandom and to integrate Sigma TC into European fandom and to join forces with others who share our vision of a borderless fandom. For this purpose we invite prominent fans from European countries. They get to know Swedish fandom and we get to sample theirs. As a counterpart we also invite a seasoned Swedish fan. This year we are proud to present *Mike Cheater* from Portsmouth and *Maths Claesson* from the SF-Bookshop in Stockholm. Mike Cheater is well known to British fandom. Although he has edited some fanzines (Death Rays and Cyber space), his reputation is more based on his conactivity. He is running cons since 1986 (Wincon 1). Mike came to SF-fandom in 1979 after previous engagement into comics fandom. He was a founder member of the South Hants Science Fiction Group 18 years ago. For the past 7 years he has been secretary for the Science Fiction Foundation in Liverpool. Maths Claesson is an equally matched fan. He has been around for the past 20 years, published a lot of fanzines (which rendered him an Alvar Award (Swedish fan-Hugo) in 1984, and he has been involved in several Swecons. He has been a staff member of the successful SF-Bookshop in Stockholm for over a decade and appears at the convention as a representative of this establishment. We believe that Mike Cheater and Maths Claesson will be interesting and entertaining guests of honour. We also believe that we will get some insight into British fandom and a glimpse behind the scenes of a successful and very popular (fandom) enterprise. All main program items are in English language. Some side program items with interest for newcomers will also be in Swedish language. There will be a continuous film program running and the convention has a bar on Saturday evening. Sunday is promotional. Then we will have free admittance for any passer-by. Guests, staff, committee and all preregistered attendees will be invited to a preconventional party on Friday evening. Foreign members who don't mind simple lodging can receive free accomodation with local fans, or at the con-site if we are given a months notice. The convention fee will be 100 SEK (12 USD, 22 DM or 7,5 GBP). Foreign members don't need to pay in advance. Contact for further info: / Homepage: or Wolf von Witting, Algatan 7, S-133 44 SALTSJOBADEN / Tel&Fax:+46(0)8-717 48 59 / Homepage:

-- Fiona Anderson *WARNING* you have entered a Tact Free Zone