by Bob Shaw
IT IS, I think, only fitting that I should commence this, the second of my lectures, by presenting a few notes on the startling new field that has set Fansmen everywhere talking. I would even make so bold as to say we oldsters are beginning to look to our laurels in some apprehension at the prowess of the youngsters who are adapting themselves to this rather revolutionary new field, which I have tentatively titled:-
CONVENTIONMANSHIP. To the older Fansman who has become set in his ways and tends to become panic-striken in this field, I would say that Conventionmanship is, after all, only Fansmanship on a very much larger scale. If he keeps his head and remembers his Fansmanship basics he can proceed calmly ahead and emerge triumphantly as the most feared, disliked and even AVOIDED fan present.
THE FIRST and most important basic is to establish superiority and if possible a feeling of awkwardness and unease in all present. The following ploy (1) was developed, as every Fansman knows, by the immortal Bloggs.
Before a convention he would visit the locale and carefully draw up a plan of the hall on which he would mark the position of all the loose floorboards. With this thoroughly memorized he would show up an hour after the proceedings had started, and then walk boldly in, being careful to WALK ON ALL THE LOOSE BOARDS.
The resultant sequence of eerie squeaks and groans not only made everybody notice him and unsettled the speaker, but it formed an indirect criticism of the hall and thus of the Convention Committee. All this and not a word spoken yet! It is when we consider the perfection of ploys such as this that we realize the years of painstaking research that Fansman Bloggs must have put into his work.
I STILL remember the feeling of reverent awe he inspired in me when he was buuttonholed by a fan who remarked proudly, "I have come 200 miles to attend." I thought for a horrible moment that Bloggs was beaten, but he merely remarked, with an indescribably amused and PITYING expression, "Dear me, such keanness! And I have barely come five miles! I do feel sorry for you, old man." The effect was devistating. The sheer briliance of the ploy is only fully appreciated when one recalls the fact that Bloggs had come over 300 miles himself!
I have before me a note from Fansman W. Willis in which he suggests a variant of Blogg's ploy for use by fansmen who have not been able to familiarize themselves with the flooring of the hall. The Fansman's arival should be delayed until he has been introduced to the audience and his absence discovered, and should if at all possible coincide with the belated distribution of the Official Programme. The implication is of course that the Fansman is a POWER BEHIND THE SCENES, and the Convention has not really started until he makes his appearance.
WILLIS also states authoritatively that several ploys in ANTI-BNFMANSHIP are readily adaptable to Conventionmanship.
NEOFAN: I want you to meet Mr. Ackerman.
FANSMAN: (enthusiastically) Not HENRY Ackerman!
BNF: (shaken) No. . . Forrest.
GUBBIN'S GAMBIT is sometimes known as the Ultimate Gambit because of the tremendous risk involved, however, this is offset by the amount of unease it can produce. Here is the basic method as outlined by Gubbbins, before he passed on from this world to stand before the Supreme Fansman and contribute to the Great Fanzine.
After the local group has picked on an author it dislikes intensely and torn him to shreads, agreeing unanimously that he is the worst writer of all time, the Fansman selects a pen name which HE KNOWS THE GROUP HAS SUSPECTED OF BEING THE SAME AUTHOR and says loudly, "There will never be another to touch X." Properly done, this will cause hours of endless secret worry among the more sensitive fans, lest it should be the same one. I cannot, for obvious reasons, stress too heavily the importance of making sure that the group has no definite information on the author.
SUBSCRIBERMANSHIP is a much neglected branch of Fansmanship, because most Fansmen feel that publishing a fanzine leaves them open to dangerous attacks from Zinesmen. The basic ploy is to purchase a large number of postal orders made out to oneself and send them with stamped self-addressed envelopes to famous authors. The recipient will, of course, jump at the chance of getting something for nothing, even a fanzine. He will just drop the s.a.e. back into the mail. In this way it is possible to build up quite an impressive list of "paid" subscribers.
Several authors have written to me in desperation, asking how they can avoid having their names mooted in fan publications without doing the unthinkable by refusing to use the postal order. For their benefit I have developed the counterploy in PROAUTHORMANSHIP - this department consists, it may be noted, almost entirely of counterploys - which, as you can see, is extremely simple, but yet effective. I might even say devastating.
ALL THE author has to do is to consult previous numbers of the fanzine in question to see what books the editor is trying to sell. He then returns the P.O. requesting BOOKS TO THE VALUE THEREOF!
(Yes, I think devastating is the word to describe this ploy.)
I had hoped to be able to present final data on the now famous Deadly Indirect Glance Ploy, but I regret to say that controversy is still raging on this topic. The basic method is - when examining a rival fanzine - never to look squarely at it, but HOLD IT AT AN ANGLE TO THE LINE OF SIGHT! This will lend an incredibly casual and uninterested air to your examination. It has, however, so far been impossible to determine whether an angle of 30 or 45 degrees produces the best results. Fansmen are almost equally divided on this subject, with a small reactionary group in favour of holding the page PARALLEL to the line of sight! These last, I am happy to say, are almost universally ignored.
I HOPE that the marvellous and intricate techniques of ploy, counterploy and plain ploy - among which the greatest fansman must always be on his guard, are beginning to make themselves clear to the young Fansman. It is this limitless scope of measure and countermeasure that makes Fansmanship the greatest of all games.
Ed. Note. Professor Shaw and myself are indebted to local fan K. Winn for a particularly complex variation on the Deadly Indirect Glance Ploy. Mr. Winn, whose work is distinguished by its intricate beauty, feels that the Indirect Glance Ploy is even more Deadly when accompanied by subtle subsidiary ploys thus. (The Fansman is being shown a page of proof, preferably either the LAST page or the FIRST page of the coming issue.)
NEOFAN (proudly): "What do you think of THAT?"
(It is very important that the greater part of the following ploy be executed with an impassive countenance and in UTTER SILENCE. The Fansman picks up the proof and studies it intently for some 45 or 50 seconds. If it is an illustration he should at least once TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN. Then and only then, is the Deadly In Direct Glance emoloyed. At this stage it is permissible to utter the first sound, a barely audible intake of breath. In the resultant tension the fansman holds the page at arms length, rubs it tentatively between finger and thumb, and drops dead onto the table from a height of approximately four inches.)
FANSMAN: "Good paper."
Data entry and page scans provided by Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
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