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Mike Moorock's Early Days

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  • Whiskers
    flying cat
    • Nov 2003
    • 1950

    Mike Moorock's Early Days

    What follows are excerpts from THEN a record of the fanzines of London. Mike plays an important role in all this and the documentation goes into great detail on his involvment and early career.

    Source: All material in THEN is copyright آ© Rob Hansen, 1988-1994

    The fourth EYE appeared in June, six months after the previous issue. It was explained inside that:

    " order to explain the delay and rumours this is the real gen. Stu MacKenzie has gone GAFIA with an abruptness and violence somewhat rare in anyone who, up to so short a while ago, was so keen."

    It was further explained that he had taken off "...with all the letters, contributions, accounts, subscriptions, ready cash and postal lists". Thus ended the short fannish career of Stuart MacKenzie just as that of another London fan, the 17 year-old Michael Moorcock, was beginning:

    "I entered fandom with the advantage that most neofans don't have -- I'd had my 'initiation' in a different sort of fandom, one in which youth was actually frowned upon. I stopped reading what they read and turned to SF through ERBurroughs and from there to an evening at the Globe..."

    The 'different sort of fandom' Moorcock was referring to was "...Old Boys, Book Fandom...nothing to do with SF".

    New fanzines were still appearing, but the flood of a few years earlier was now slowing to a trickle. June saw the first issue of Michael Moorcock's FANTASIANA, August brought Bobbie Gray's VAGARY (for OMPA), September produced Dave Newman's NATTER, and in December came Dave Cohen's ONCE IN A BLUE MOON. Subsequent issues of the Cohen zine were called TWICE IN A BLUE MOON, and THRICE IN A BLUE MOON. The title scheme didn't lend itself to a fourth issue.

    CONTACT 1, dated 16th October 1956, was a twice-monthly newszine published by the 'Contact Group' of Ron Bennett, John Hitchcock, Ellis Mills, and Jan Jansen. Hitchcock, an American, edited UMBRA (Mills was also American, and apparently stationed with US armed forces in Europe at this point), and Jansen was a Belgian fan who edited ALPHA, then continental Europe's only fanzine, and ran the International Science Fiction Correspondence Club. CONTACT's editorial address was Jansen's but as its editorial line-up implies it was intended to give coverage of fandom internationally. The first three issues were distributed free to members of OMPA, FAPA, NFFF, and the ISFCC, as well as to those on the mailing lists of ALPHA, PLOY and UMBRA. Thereafter it would be subscription only, as newszines have mostly been ever since. Apart from the hoax telegram that first issue also reported the demise of the New York SF Circle due to the strain of putting on a Worldcon, the low level of activity in Holland, and that Bruce Kidd, the art editor on Moorcock's BURROUGHSANIA (which ran from 1956 to 1958 and saw 18 issues) was quitting fandom after an argument with Moorcock at the Globe (which may explain why MILLENIUM never appeared).
    In CONTACT 3 there was some discussion as to whether a national convention should be held in Britain in the same year as a Worldcon and, if not, whether a small 'business' con should be put on "in order to clear the path for the September World Con" and to finalise its programming. It was also reported that the Cheltenham Circle had displayed what was claimed to be "possibly the first working model of J.W.Campbell's version of the Hieronymous Psionic Machine" at a local Hobbies Exhibition, and that following a possibly drunken evening at the Globe, Mike Moorcock had handed out copies of BURROUGHSANIA to all his fellow bus passengers. As far as is known, no new subs resulted from this generous act.
    Spring brought the first (and only) issue of TYPO from Mike Moorcock and Jim Linwood, the most determinedly fannish of all the various fanzines Moorcock was to produce. TYPO appeared later than announced, Moorcock's excuse being one of the more unusual ones ever given in a fanzine:

    "Just recently I've had to rehearse a lot for a recording I did at HMV on the 5th of Feb. -- and when you're trying to cut a 14 verse song down to a 7 verse song so that it'll fit onto one side of a 10" 78, you don't get much time to worry about anything else."
    At BRUMCON, Bennett had suggested his native Harrogate as the venue for the next Eastercon. However, over the Whitsun weekend of 16th-18th May, during a meeting of BSFA members occasioned by a contingent of London Circle members descending on the Cheltenham Circle, it was decided to award the con to London. Those who made the trip included the Bulmers, Mike Moorcock, Pete Taylor, Archie Mercer, Ted Tubb, George Locke, Bobbie Wild, Ella Parker, Barrington Bayley, Jim Rattigan, Sandy Sandfield, Ivor Mayne, and Sandra Hall. It wasn't all business, however. In SKYRACK 3 (June '59), Bennett reported that:

    "A fancy dress parade paid homage at the Shrine of St. Fantony and later Ted Tubb and Sandra Hall were admitted to the select company of Knights and Ladies of this ancient fannish order. I'm told that Eric and Margaret Jones, Frank Herbert ((a local fan, not the SF writer)), Doc Weir, Les Childs, Bill Gray, Keith Freeman, and Audrey Eversfield of the Cheltenham Circle made merry with the visitors."
    In September, Bobbie Wild married the Cheltenham Circle's Bill Gray and moved to that town, while SKYRACK 7 reported Mike Moorcock's first professional sale, to NEW WORLDS. Moorcock thus became the last of the SF authors to emerge from British fandom in the 1950s, others being Bob Shaw, James White, John Brunner, Ted Tubb, and Ken Bulmer. In late-September, Cheslin and Davies of SADO published the first issue of LES SPINGE. It wasn't a particularly auspicious beginning, but SPINGE would go on to become one of the major fanzines of the early-60s. September was also the end of OMPA's fifth year, a year in which the waitlist had grown from 17 to 21, in which British fans found themselves in the minority of the membership for the first time, and in which OMPA saw its largest ever mailing -- the massive 422-page 16th mailing that went out in the summer. OMPA also contained, in its April mailing, the first issue of Terry Jeeves' ERG, a fanzine that would go on to have the longest record of continuous publication of any British fanzine ever.

    In June 1960, Eric Bentcliffe had started Mi, a single-sheet zine that was distributed with Ron Bennett's newszine SKYRACK, and in August he edited (and Norman Shorrock published) the first issue of BASTION, for the Liverpool Group. BASTION was a worthy successor to both TRIODE and SPACE DIVERSIONS, the fanzines it had been conceived as a replacement for. Behind its beautiful cover (a good example of just what can be achieved with stencil-art) by 'staff artist' Eddie Jones, were a number of fine articles by the best fanwriters of the day. In his column, 'Drums Along The Mersey', John Roles gave formal recognition to the metamorphosis the Liverpool Group had undergone since its early days as the Liverpool Science Fantasy Society:

    "LaSFaS having passed peacefully away in its sleep, and the Liverpool Group's aims having now been roughly formulated, it might be as well to briefly summarise these...Firstly, fandom will remain the basis for many of the Group's activities, both social and otherwise. We still hope to attend fan conventions...but one can say that as far as our ordinary, average Member is concerned, LiG is now officially a 'fringefan' organisation. Why the change -- or rather, why the sudden official recognition of the change? principally because we feel strongly that, if we are not to stagnate, we urgently need new blood...."

    Roles went on to describe the general loss of 'Sense of Wonder' among group members, their increasing lack of interest in SF, and how redundant a club whose ostensible aim was to promote interest in SF had become now that SF was being widely-read by the general public. Thus, he explained, they were going to campaign for new members by emphasising their cine, tape, amateur publishing, and social activities as well, and would as happily accept fans of these activities as they would SF readers. He concluded:

    "The Old Guard of fandom may consider all this -- if it considers it at all -- to be deplorable; as we see it, however, the course we're adopting is absolutely necessary if we're to persist as an organised Club, and not merely a party of friends. Those who know us will hardly need reminding that we've always been a social rather than a fannish group; in effect, therefore, it might be said that we're merely bowing to the Inevitable."

    The most important piece in the first BASTION -- though it hardly appeared that way at the time -- was Mike Moorcock's 'Blast-Off 1960'. Moorcock had been surprised by how many people at the 1960 Eastercon had expressed their generaldissatisfaction with the state of current SF, and he used the article to expound his own ideas on what was necessary to alter the situation. A few years later he would get the opportunity to put those ideas -- much further developed by then -- into practice, and would be at the forefront one of the most radical new movements SF has ever seen. Moorcock would be greatly aided in his aims by the more liberal publishing atmosphere that came about as a result of the obscenity trial, at the end of 1960, in which an Old Bailey judge overturned a 30 year old ban on D.H.Lawrence's book 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.
    Mike Moorcock's ERGO EGO, a fanzine with Jim Cawthorn illos that pastiched Aubrey Beardsley, appeared in September 1962 and announced itself as " Being THE COLLECTED WORKS OF MOORCOCK rejected by a dozen of the best publishers and containing POEMS, STORIES and BELLE LETTRES from the pen of a Master Plagiarist and Professional Dilettante". It was Moorcock's final fanzine, and was written in the style of Victorian writers such as those who had appeared in THE YELLOW BOOK, an early example of one of the enthusiasms that was to make itself felt in his later professional work. At this point Moorcock was one of the regular visitors to what one of its denizens, Jim Linwood, described as:

    "...the Kingdon Road Slan-Shack. 5 Kingdon Road, West Hampstead, was...the slanshack of young London fandom from 1962-64... a large terraced Edwardian house...comprised of four bedsits... that accomodated, and played host to, some of the less conservative elements in Anglofandom in the early sixties. Residents included (in chronological order) Bruce Burn, Alan Rispin, Diane Goulding (later Mrs Ellingsworth), Dick Ellingsworth, myself, and Marion Lansdale (future Mrs Linwood). Frequent visitors and short-term residents included Brian Jordan, Ivor Mayne, Chris Miller, Mike Moorcock, George Locke, Barry Bayley, Pete Taylor, Ethel Lindsay, Bette Woodhead, Dave Hale, Pat Kearney, Pete Mansfield, Rog Peyton, Ken Potter, Tony and Simone Walsh, and Don Geldart, together with assorted girlfriends. The only fanac of any note published at Kingdon Road was Bruce Burn's personalzine, SIZAR, which Ethel Lindsay once banned from an OMPA mailing because it contained an accurate, but unflattering, word-portrait of Ella Parker -- a first manifestation of the fannish generation gap. Kingdon Road was an 'anytime' alternative to nearby Ella's tea and biscuit meetings. The group was influenced by US West Coast fandom and didn't much care for stodgy, middle class, middlebrow UK fandom of the time, steeped in wartime/national service Goon Show humour and pointless feuds. Kingdon Road was an exciting period for us all at a time when fandom and Britain were both going through periods of great change; we were discovering and debating the merits of William Burroughs, Jim Ballard and Phil Dick at the same time as those of the Stones, Beatles, and Dylan."
    TENSOR 1 (April '63), was the first fanzine from London fan Langdon Jones, who was to move into the professional field later in the decade. The second, and final issue, appeared in May. (Jones published the 34-page TENSION, APPREHENSION, & DISSENSION in November, a zine whose title suggests it might have been a continuation of sorts of TENSOR). Among the material collected for the never-published third issue was an article by Mike Moorcock that eventually saw print as a chapter of his book WIZARDRY & WILD ROMANCE, more than twenty years later.
    After SFCoL moved from the Penitentiary, her 151 Canterbury Road flat in London's West Kilburn, Parker started a Friday night open-house for any BSFA members who cared to drop by. She also became Secretary of the BSFA at the organisation's AGM over Easter 1960 and so played her part in its first major period of growth. Not that there weren't teething troubles. Following Terry Jeeves' tenure, Michael Moorcock took over as editor of VECTOR with its fifth issue in the autumn of 1959, having put out the single-sheet VECTOR EXPLANATION shortly before to explain the delay between issues. This was to be the first of four issues he was to edit (the others with assistance from Bobbie Gray -- the former Bobbie Wild, Sandra Hall, George Locke, and John Phillifent, variously) before Jimmy Groves took over with the eighth issue in June 1960, his proposal for VECTOR having narrowly defeated that of Mike Moorcock and Gerry Mosdell in a vote taken at the BSFA's Easter AGM. That same month Ron Bennett passed editorship of OFF-TRAILS, and the position of OE for OMPA for the following year, over to Daphne Buckmaster (who had moved from London to Kircudbright in Scotland a few months earlier).

    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."
    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.
    Following a busy five weeks search, Mike Moorcock and Langdon Jones found the perfect place, a house whose rent was only آ£4 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 آ£1, 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.
    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...."

    SFCoL member Jimmy Groves had been due to emigrate to the US in December, but due to difficulties with red tape he was still in Britain as spring began. (In fact, he did not finally leave for America until 8th October, some ten months late.) In his OMPAzine, HAGGIS, which went out with the March 1966 mailing, Ian Peters, the SFCoL treasurer (a post to which he had been elected at the club's December AGM, when Ethel Lindsay became Chairman, and Keith Otter the Secretary), announced:

    "The Science Fiction Club of London (SFCoL) in an attempt to boost membership and at the same time contribute something to London fandom in general, has started, as an experiment, a series of monthly open meetings consisting of a talk followed by a discussion, refreshments being provided."

    The open meetings were to be held in the hall on the ground floor of the block of flats where Ella Parker lived, the same hall that had been proposed as an alternative meeting place following the demise of the Friday night gathering at Ella's, and some had already been held. The first had featured John Brunner, who gave a talk titled 'The Fiction in SF' (which was immediately snapped up by Mike Moorcock for publication in NEW WORLDS) to the 25 or so fans who attended. This number included SFCoL members, and Peters expressed disappointment at the turn out. The second meeting, on 13th February, featured a talk by Frank Arnold on 'Characterisation in SF'. The SFCoL planned three such meetings at first, after which they would decide whether it was worth continuing them. Clearly, it must have been since there's evidence of them continuing at least as late as January of the following year (specifically, an ad in NEW WORLDS inviting readers to the open meetings held on the second Sunday of every month).
    Still the new fanzines appeared, with May bringing the first issue of Graham Charnock's PHILE. A young Londoner, Charnock had got into fandom the previous year after seeing fanzine reviews in NEW WORLDS 145 and writing off for two of those reviewed, BEYOND and ZENITH. Though he corresponded with people such as Chris Priest, Charnock wasn't to actually meet another fan until later in 1966:

    "Charles Platt was the first fan I met. Graham Hall was the second. Charles interested me; Graham terrified me. The two together were a shocking experience. Charles persuaded me, however, to come along to a Globe meeting...There I bounced uncomfortably and at times drunkenly to and fro between a number of people. I pretended to be blase when I saw Mike Moorcock stumble drunkenly out on to the pavement at closing time waving a broken bottle...."

    Charnock also finally met Priest at the Globe, and went on to become a member of that group of bright young London fans who were to be increasingly involved with NEW WORLDS. PHILE itself would see seven issues in all, the final one appearing late in 1968.
    Charles Platt had become increasingly involved with NEW WORLDS as time had passed, becoming its designer with NEW WORLDS 165, the August 1966 issue. This involvement was the cause of some amusement in fandom, given the opinions Platt had held previously. Chris Priest's one-off THUD-F, for instance, featured a Dicky Howett cartoon depicting Mike Moorcock operating the strings of a Charles Platt puppet with one hand while the other held a sheet reading "MJM assisted as always by his London group of hangers-on". This last was a disdainful quote by Platt from the report on REPETERCON he had run in BEYOND 5.
    During November 1966, a two-page leaflet headed THE BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION REGIONALISATION SCHEME was circulated calling for the BSFA to set up regional committees. Ted Tubb, Archie Mercer, Chris Priest, Mike Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, Ken Slater and Pete Weston were down as supporting the idea, and anyone who was interested was asked to send two shillings and sixpence (twelve and a half new pence) to Chris Priest. All very interesting, but actually a hoax. None of those listed knew anything about it. Archie Mercer warned members not to be fooled by the circular in BSFA BULLETIN 8 (Nov '66).
    The 1967 Eastercon, BRISCON, was held at the Hawthorns Hotel in Bristol over the weekend of 24-26th March. The con was put on by the BaD Group with Tony & Simone Walsh handling hotel liaison and con funds, Archie & Beryl Mercer handling publications, Graham Boak being in charge of the Cabot Room (where the book tables, fanzine sales table and the art show were located), Brian Hampton in charge of logistics, and various other members acting as gophers. Tony Walsh was con Chairman, Guest of Honour was John Brunner, and the programme book did not list those who had registered (so no attendance figures). There were the usual auctions and panels, speeches by Brunner and Moorcock, and a St.Fantony ceremony at which Ramsey Campbell, Charles Partington, Wendy Freeman, and Jill Adams were inducted. Doreen Parker won the Doc Weir Award. BRISCON had no Fancy Dress -- which was only an occasional item at British cons at this point anyway, and the only film listed was 'La Jetee'. In actual fact, this was followed by Ed Emshwiller's 'Relativity'. Before this latter film was shown, Tony Walsh warned that it was "bloody, very bloody" and that the squeamish should leave before it began. Few did, and the film generated so much comment that it was screened again later in the con. The proceedings at BRISCON were reported in depth in SPECULATION 16 in the Autumn, which carried transcripts of the speeches by Brunner and Moorcock and of the pro-panel discussion, a review of 'Relativity', and a con-report by editor Weston.
    NEW WORLDS faced an uncertain future in late-1966. Roberts and Vinter's distributers went bankrupt, causing the company to re-think their policy. A consequence of this 're-think' was the decision to drop NEW WORLDS, and its sister magazine SF IMPULSE (the former SCIENCE FANTASY), which looked like they would now have to fold. NEW WORLDS 172 (Apr '67) was the last of the digest-size issues, and it appeared it might be the last one ever. However, help was at hand in the form of Brian Aldiss who successfully petitioned the Arts Council for a grant to keep the magazine afloat. The sum involved, آ£150 per issue, was hardly sufficient for the purpose, but the prestige attendant to an Arts Council grant was enough to convince David Warburton to stick with NEW WORLDS for a while longer. It was agreed that he would cover the printing while Moorcock was to pay the contributors, usually with money brought in by hastily written fantasy novels. NEW WORLDS was back in business it seemed, and in July issue 173, the first of the large-format issues, duly appeared.
    NEW WORLDS' troubles continued, meanwhile. The first five issues of the large-format magazine had not sold well enough for David Warburton to consider the magazine financially viable, so in November 1967 he bailed out, leaving the magazine to Moorcock. Once again NEW WORLDS was saved from extinction, however, this time by Silvester Stein of Stonehart Publications, who read about the magazine in the Diary section of 'The Times' and decided to help out. Thus, only slightly delayed, issue 178 appeared at the turn of the year. In it was the first part of a serialisation of Norman Spinrad's novel 'Bug Jack Barron', which was to spark off the biggest fuss in the history of NEW WORLDS.

    NEW WORLDS 180 appeared in March 1968, and that was when the shit really hit the fan. Britain's two major distributors, John Menzies and W.H.Smith, refused to distribute it on the grounds of 'obscenity and libel', though it was never made clear just what NEW WORLDS contained that they imagined to be libellous. This was picked up by the 'Daily Express' newspaper, and in the House of Commons a Tory MP demanded to know of Arts Minister Jennie Lee why public money (the Arts Council grant) was being used to subsidise filth. Moorcock's experiments with NEW WORLDS had brought condemnation from the more traditionally minded SF pros and fans, but this was the first time the Establishment had reacted to what he was doing. The head of Smith's magazine division agreed to re-consider their decision if Moorcock dropped 'Bug Jack Barron', which he refused to do. However, in the face of bad publicity resulting from their action, Smith's decided to take NEW WORLDS back anyway, but the magazine was still in trouble. Soon afterwards there was an argument with the Arts Council over the grant and Stoneheart bailed out. Consequently there were no issues in May or June and the July issue was largely financed, once again, by Moorcock's fantasy writing.
    At the BSFA AGM on the Sunday, Dave Barber resigned from both the Management Council and the post of Treasurer, to be replaced in both positions by John Hart of Essex. There were no other changes at the top at the AGM, but soon after the con Tony Sudbery resigned as Publications Officer and was replaced by Michael Kenward. At the previous year's AGM Cambridge had been awarded the 1969 convention, but due to a lack of suitable accomodation this had fallen through. A sub-committee composed of Ted Tubb, Jean Muggoch, Daphne Sewell, Gerry Webb and Anne Keylock were charged with finding an alternative site for 1969. This being so, no decision was taken with regard to 1970, two-year planning having apparently gone by the board. The British Fantasy Award, to quote from the issue of BSFA BULLETIN that appeared shortly after the con, "...this year somehow contrived to fission. Part of it went to P.K.Dick, the remainder to Michael Moorcock for services to magazine SF in this country".
    In 1967, the BSFA had added THE SF WRITER'S BULLETIN to its roster of publications. This was intended to provide practical advice and tips to the many BSFA members who wanted to break into the professional market. Although announced as a quarterly publication, the second issue didn't appear until August 1968. Edited by Michael Kenward, this issue contained contained a piece by Keith Otter explaining how part-time authors should calculate tax on those earnings, and an article by Mike Moorcock about the editorial requirements of NEW WORLDS in which he revealed that:

    "We have begun a policy of producing all new writers issues which will publish only works by writers who have never been published in NW before and who have published rarely or never elsewhere. 184 will be the first of these, containing stories by Graham Charnock, Barry Bowes, M.J.Harrison, Robert Holdstock, C.J.Wolfthane, Gretchen Happanen, Brian Vickers and others..."
    In LONDON NEWSLETTER 12 (Jan '69), Jean Muggoch pondered the state of London fandom in these post-SFCoL days:

    "The Globe meetings are about the only happenings in London just now, but happily there seems to be a good crowd every time compared with, say, a couple of years ago, when the company was rather thin. The December Globe saw John Brunner, Ted Tubb, Ken Bulmer, Mike Moorcock, Ethel Lindsay, Brian Burgess, Arthur C. Clarke...also quite a few fannish newcomers."

    This was the last issue of LNL. Its sister newszine, EUROPEAN LINK, lasted until the early 1970s.
    The 1971 Speculation Conference was held at the Birmingham and Midland Institute on Saturday 12th June 1971. Guest speakers were James Blish ('Some Nebulae'); John Brunner ('Looking Back at the Future'); Philip Strick ('Heinlein -- A Perspective'); and Chris Priest ('Difficulties and Solutions'). Also, George Hay hosted a National Book League and Science Fiction Foundation exhibition titled 'The Best of SF'. Organiser Pete Weston estimated the attendance at 75- 100, a number which included fans such as Peter Roberts, Malcolm Edwards, the Pardoes, Rog Peyton, and VECTOR editor Bob Parkinson. Of more significance to fandom was that a fortnight later, on Friday 25th June, the newly-reborn Birmingham SF Group held its inaugural meeting in the George Room of Birmingham's Imperial Hotel. According to the first of the monthly BSFG NEWSLETTERs thirty people attended including some newcomers, such as Stan Eling, whose first contact with fandom had been the Speculation Conference two weeks earlier. Indeed, the conference's Visitors Book had provided a list of interested locals who were contacted and invited to the inaugural meeting. From the outset, the BSFG was intended to be more sercon than most groups with formal meetings and guest speakers. Among those who addressed the group in the early months of its existence were Michael Moorcock, Philip Strick and Jack Cohen. The constitution of the new model BSFG was based on that of the Young Conservatives by Peter Weston and it was to this, many years later, that he attributed the group's endurance.

    TYNECON '74, the 1974 Eastercon, was held at the Royal Station Hotel in Newcastle over the weekend of 12th -- 15th April, registration was 504 with a final attendance of over 400 -- a testament to the effect SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY was having. Guest of Honour was Bob Shaw, Fan GoH was Peter Weston, and other notable attendees included Samuel R.Delany, Roger Zelazny, Brian Aldiss, Chris Priest, Anne McCaffrey, James Blish, Don Wollheim, Michael Moorcock, Mark Adlard, Ken Bulmer, James White, and John Brunner. As the committee: Ian Maule was Chairman, Ian Williams was Secretary, Rob Jackson was Treasurer, and Harry Bell was Press Officer. Irene Bell was also a committee member, but the Programme Book lists no specific role for her. Programme items included a 'Poetry Soiree' hosted by Lisa Conesa; 'Out of the Slushpile', a new writers panel chaired by Chris Priest, with Ian Watson and Andrew Stephenson; 'What's Wrong with SF Art' with Eddie and Marsha Jones and others; ' The Future of Fanzines', a panel chaired by Gray Boak, with Peter Roberts, Ian Maule and Lisa Conesa; 'The Golden Fifties', a panel discussion of 1950s fandom chaired by Bob Shaw, with Ron Bennett, Ken Bulmer, and James White; 'The Need for an Ideology', an examination of how SF had so far reflected need for a belief in higher beings, with John Brunner, James Blish, and Anne McCaffrey; a 'Publishers Panel' featuring John Bush, Don Wollheim, Sam Lundwall, and Phil Harbottle; 'Whither the BSFA?' with Ken Bulmer, Fred Hemmings and Keith Freeman; and other items.
    Jim Campbell's CELTIC WARRIOR, a one-off devoted to amateur fiction, in March 1975, was the first fanzine to be produced by a FOKT member. Other new titles were John Jarrold's PREVERT, which wouldn't see another issue until the 1980s, and DURFED 1 from Gannets Kev Williams and Neil Jones. In WRINKLED SHREW 3, that same month, Graham Charnock wrote about his experiences over the previous year working on a record album with Michael Moorcock. The album, called NEW WORLD'S FAIR and billed as being by 'Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix' (who consisted of Charnock and Steve Gilmore), was duly released a couple of months later, sold badly, and was soon deleted. It is now a valuable rarity.

    The 1975 Eastercon, SEACON '75, was held at the De Vere Hotel in Coventry over the weekend of 28th -- 31st March 1975. Guest of Honour was Harry Harrison, who replaced the previously-announced Michael Moorcock who, in fact, was never to attend an Eastercon again. (The selection of Moorcock as GoH in the first place had earlier led to the resignation from the committee of Andrew Stephenson, who had shown great prescience by insisting that Moorcock was unreliable and wouldn't show up.) Total registration by the end of the weekend was 550 which, even allowing for no-shows, made SEACON '75 the largest Eastercon to date.
    The other thing wrong with it was that Jonh Ingham was never heard from again in SF fandom. As Ingham indicated, there had been fanzines devoted to music before the punkzines. Indeed, during the 1950s Michael Moorcock had published at least nine issues of RAMBLER, a fanzine devoted to folk music (John Brunner was a contributor), and at least fourteen of another called JAZZ FAN (with Bill Harry, later the publisher of MERSEY BEAT, as its Art Editor). However, rock fanzines in general, and punkzines in particular, were a relatively new phenomenon. Writing in his zine WHO PUT THE BOMP in 1974, editor Greg Shaw had enthused about the growth of rock fandom in the few short years since its birth:

    "I tell ya folks, nobody could be more surprised than me at how large rock fandom has grown. The 50 or so fellow fanatics I used to correspond with back in 1970 are now well-known actifans, with articles and fanzines of their own appearing all over the place, and whole new generations of kids coming along and adopting rock fandom as a way of life as though it had always been there."

    Shaw, an American who had been active in SF fandom during the 1960s, is responsible for the term 'fanzine' crossing over into rock fandom, and from there into general usage. This is not quite how things are assumed to be by those who know nothing of SF fandom, however. In the early 1980s, in an article in the magazine CREATIVE REVIEW, one Graeme Ewins wrote:

    "West Coast record collector Greg Shaw, publisher of WHO PUT THE BOMP, is credited with coining the word fanzine for mags which were about single bands or branches of the rock family tree. Other less specific publications he called genzines."

    So now you know.
    Last edited by Reinart der Fuchs; 06-26-2006, 05:10 AM.
    The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords
  • Marca
    Eternal Champion
    • Aug 2004
    • 2014

    Fascinating stuff again.
    'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

    Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)


    • GuyLawley
      Champion of the Balance
      • Aug 2004
      • 1479

      Brilliant, Berry! Thanks very much.


      • Typhoid_Mary
        Little Voice
        • Jun 2004
        • 541

        Mike Moorcock's ERGO EGO, a fanzine with Jim Cawthorn illos that pastiched Aubrey Beardsley...
        Does anyone have copies that they could scan for the gallery?


        • Whiskers
          flying cat
          • Nov 2003
          • 1950

          I've scoured Google and Google Images for Ergo Ego covers and none are to be found. It's a bit frustrating.
          The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords


          • David Mosley
            Eternal Administrator
            • Jul 2004
            • 11823

            Originally posted by Aral Vilsn
            Also, being the pedantic sort, John Creasey's Old Stand is actually called John Greasey's Old Stand (my italics) - it's an amusing intro piece to Ergo Ego. I may be able to scan this when I get round to doing Ergo Ego for the Image Gallery. Being similarly pedantic, it's not really correct to refer to 'Ergo Ego #1', as it was always intended as a one-off publication and therefore has no issue number.
            See this thread:
            Last edited by David Mosley; 09-02-2011, 02:17 PM. Reason: Fixed broken link
            _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
            _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
            _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
            _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."


            • Marca
              Eternal Champion
              • Aug 2004
              • 2014

              I've been meaning to scan Ergo Ego for a while now. I'll try and get it done in the next couple of days. It will probably only be the front, back and inside covers though, I'll see what I can do.
              'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

              Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)