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The Roots, Birth, & Early Days of the BSFA

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  • The Roots, Birth, & Early Days of the BSFA

    The Roots, Birth, & Early Days of the BSFA
    by Rob Hansen

    Excerpts follow:

    The last Jeeves edited VECTOR, issue 4, had appeared in the spring and it would be quite a while before the next appeared. In October, Michael Moorcock put out the single-sheet VECTOR EXPLANATION, explaining the delay, and soon after VECTOR 5 finally appeared, with Moorcock and George Locke listed as editors along with Bobbie Wild and Sandra Hall. VECTOR 6 appeared in January 1960 with John Phillifent (a.k.a. John Rackham) replacing Locke on the list of editors. VECTOR 7 was dated Spring 1960 and edited by Moorcock and Wild.

    By all accounts the (unnamed) 1960 Eastercon was a fairly sedate affair. The con proper didn't start until Saturday but people turned up on the Friday evening anyway. Sunday started off with the BSFA AGM in which officers for the year were elected. Ella Parker became the Association's new Secretary, Jim Groves editor of VECTOR, Ina Shorrock its Chairman, Brian Aldiss its President, and Archie Mercer its Treasurer for the third (and final, he said) year.

    The BSFA had gotten off to a slow start, but it was soon pulling in new people and was to be a major force in British fandom during the 1960s. But that, as they say, is a story for another time.

    .......Rob Hansen 16 April 89.

    - Michael Moorcock had a dog who he had trained to bark whenever he said

    > clubzine VECTOR edited at various times by Terry Jeeves, Michael
    Moorcock, Jimmy Groves, Archie Mercer, Darroll Pardoe, Steve Oakey,
    Ken Slater & Doreen Parker, and Rog Peyton
    -- during Peyton's tenure (1964-1966), VECTOR was upgraded into a
    professionaly-printed publication
    -- VECTOR 52 was special fiction issue, with stories by Robert Holdstock
    Michael G. Coney, among others

    - first issue was September 1959
    > initially edited by Ken Cheslin and Peter Davies of the Stourbridge
    Science Fiction Circle (SADO)
    - edited in the 1960s by Dave Hale and Ken Cheslin
    - it and HYPHEN example of old-style of British fanzine
    - 100 page 13th issue (May 1964) collated in two volumes
    > contributors included Willis, John Berry, Michael Moorcock
    - 106-page 14th issue (January 1965) assembled using a power drill and metal
    binding straps
    > could only collate and mail a few issues each week
    > contributors included Michael Moorcock, John Berry, Charles Platt, and
    George O. Smith
    > relatively low reader response received caused editors to quit
    - Darroll Pardoe edited slimmed-down subsequent issues
    > never quite the same after that
    > however, it lasted through the decade of the 1970s, its final issue
    (#36) was in December 1979

    -- Britain's first sword-and-sorcery fanzine (1960)
    -- published by Michael Moorcock, featuring some of his early tales

    - 1963: Bullcon (Peterborough); April 12-15, 1963
    > held at the Hotel Bull
    > attendance was 130
    -- was the largest British convention since the 1957 Worldcon
    -- total paid registration was 167
    > chairman was Ken Slater
    > GoH was Edmund Crispin, who in real life was Bruce Montgomery, who
    taught at one of the colleges of Oxford University (confirmation??)
    > other notables present included Kingsley Amis, Michael Moorcock, Brian
    Aldiss, John Brunner, Tedd Tubb, Harry Harrison, and Ted Carnell
    > Programme
    -- Harry Harrison's talk, "Sex and Censorship in SF"
    -- fannish slide show by Eric Bentcliffe
    -- fancy dress event on Saturday evening
    >> covered by Anglia TV, which had been alerted to the presence of
    Kingsley Amis at the convention
    >> Best Costume prize won by a new fan, Harry Nadler, for what was
    described as "a very nasty-looking mutant"
    -- TAFF panel with Ethel Lindsay, Ron Bennett, Eric Bentcliffe
    >> many suggestions from audience on how to improve the fund; only
    only one with any concensus was doubling voting fee to five
    >> suggestion was quickly adopted by TAFF administrators Ellik and
    Lindsay; new U.S. voting fee is $1
    -- "rousing auction" run by Ted Tubb
    >> a highlight of the weekend, according to some attendees
    > Doc Weir Award presented in absentia to Peter Mabey, for his work on the
    BSFA lending library
    > convention was successful and hotel management wanted convention back
    -- was decided that 1964 convention would return to same site
    - 1964: Repetercon (Peterborough); March 27-30, 1964
    > attendance listed as 151, though one report listed only 125 as attending
    -- ten members of Birmingham SF Group attended
    > GoH was Tedd Tubb
    > chairman was Tony Walsh
    > attended by U.S. pros Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett
    > attended by TAFF delegate Wally Weber
    -- he had a great time: "They wait on me hand, foot, and tentacle; the
    only person in Britain reluctant to become my slave is Ella Parker"
    >> reference to the Weber-Parker pseudofeuds of years past that had
    brought on Ella's U.S. trip of 1961
    > George Scithers, who was in Europe on military service, also attended
    > even LASFS was there is spirit
    -- the club sent a telegram, which was received with applause, and which
    brought in 8 shillings at the auction
    > Programme
    -- pro authors "tribute to Nova", with Michael Moorcock, Ted Tubb, and
    Ken Bulmer
    >> Nova Publications had published NEW WORLDS magazine
    --- went out of business in 1964
    --- NEW WORLDS assumed by a different publisher after that
    >> panel was tribute to Ted Carnell's editorship under Nova
    > Doc Weir Award went to Archie Mercer
    -- he thanked BSFA in a short speech which was described as "the
    weekend's finest"
    > site selection: Birmingham defeated Harrogate by a single vote, 27 to 26
    -- Ron Bennett had championed the Harrogate cause
    >> according to those who attended, it was a bad convention for
    Bennett: besides losing the site selection vote, he had lost his
    voice after the convention's first day, and worse, had incredibly
    bad luck at Brag
    - 1967: Briscon (Bristol); March 24-26, 1967
    > sponsored by BaD Group
    -- Tony Walsh was chairman
    -- Archie & Beryl Mercer handled pubications
    -- Graham Boak in charge of room where art show, fanzine sales, and book
    sales were housed
    > GoH was John Brunner
    > no attendance figures listed
    > Programme
    -- speeches by Brunner and Michael Moorcock
    -- Knights of St. Fantony event
    >> initiated were Ramsey Campbell, Charles Partington, Wendy Freeman,
    and Jill Adams
    -- two screenings of Ed Emshwiller's film RELATIVITY, which was billed
    as not for the squeamish
    >> film inspired short-lived fanzine of same name by two Welsh fans,
    Jon Williams and Bryn Fortey
    --- fanzine was later revived by Fortey in the 1970s
    - 1968: ThirdManCon (Buxton in Derbyshire); April 12-15, 1968
    > Organized by The Delta Group
    > site was St. Ann's Hotel
    > GoH was Ken Bulmer
    > 215 registered, 160 in attendance
    -- large U.S. contingent including Dave Kyle, Don Wollheim, and TAFF
    delegate Steve Stiles
    -- group of German fans attending to promote Heidelberg 1970 Worldcon
    bid, including Waldemar Kumming, Tom Schluck, and Heinrich Arenz
    > Programming
    -- Bulmer gave humorous talk on trends in science fiction
    -- Eric Bentcliffe did slide show
    -- Dave Kyle spoke about the movie 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
    -- Knights of St. Fantony event
    >> initiated were Doreen Parker, Ken McIntyre, and Beryl Mercer
    -- British Fantasy Award shared by Phil Dick and Michael Moorcock
    > Site selection
    -- alternate site deemed necessary for 1969 Eastercon; suitable
    accomodations were not available in Cambridge
    >> committee put together to locate new site
    -- no decision on site for 1970 was made, ending two-year planning cycle
    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

  • #2
    Good stuff Berry, well found.
    '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)