Saturday 28th AugustRON BENNETT:
By Saturday the number of attendees had grown considerably and in particular this was a day upon which the majority of one-day attendees dropped into the convention. There were so many old friendships to renew and so many new ones to make that at times it became a definite battle, usually against personal preference, to leave any conversation and fight one's way through the milling groups in the lobby and lounge towards the convention hall. Invariably I just didn't make it!
Saturday morning opened with a short panel discussion, chaired by Brian Aldiss, in which Walter Ernsting, Franz Ettl, Josef Nesvadba and Josef Dolnicar talked on "SF in Europe," mentioning mainly that the majority of sf on the Continent was translated material and that the only British author who had not as yet been translated but who might be well received was John Newington.
Forry Ackerman stood in for Geoff Doherty and spoke on SF of thirty years ago.
"All Things to All Fen" was the title of the fan panel, composed of Beryl Henley, Doreen Parker, Irene Boothroyd, Dave Busby and Charles Platt. I was somewhat surprised to learn that I was supposed to be moderating this panel as I had declined the invitation to do so. A panel moderator needs special balanced skill which, as I know from experience of a Peterborough Convention, I simply do not possess. Accordingly, I declined again. Phil Rogers and Ina Shorrock took over. I was engaged in a hard drinking session in the bar when Charles Winstone came up and said that I was being paged in the hall. I went along, taking my drink with me. Phil Rogers dragged me up on to the stage removing my drink from my hand as he did so. "Just what I need," he announced taking a sip and immediately declaring in injured surprise, "It's only orange juice!" It was, too, and he handed it back. Beryl Henley seized me before I could sit down and presented me with a large toy inflatable plastic elephant and said something about a token of something I was too confused to catch (or hadn't you noticed? I'm very grateful for the elephant, though. Andrew has fallen upon it like a long lost buddy and it has already become his favourite toy). Mainly, the panel discussed the differing quality of fanzines and how much enjoyment each panel member has gleaned (or in the case of Dave Busby not gleaned!) from reading fanzines, from contributing to fanzines and from the social world of fandom as a whole.
The afternoon programme opened with a Transatlantic Quiz, the United States team losing to "The Rest of the World." Although ahead 14-12 at the half-way stage, the USA were finally beaten by 26 points to 20, the breakdown on scores being as follows (points awarded here denote clear-cut responses In some half dozen instances more than one team, member answered correctly simultaneously): United States: Forry Ackerman 8, George O. Smith 4, Wally Weber 3, James Blish 3. Rest of the World: James Groves 13, Sydney Bounds 6, Thomas Schluck 2, Ken Cheslin 2. Terry Carr was in the Chair and Doreen Parker the scorer.
The European team won with 'Information' man, Jim Groves, answering the most questions correctly.
The Delta Group then made their first contribution to the activities - an amusing skit on the Monster Movies, called CASTLE OF TERROR. This had a delightful custard- pie sequence, between the various monsters and their maker.
After this short spell of humour, the Convention launched into one of its highspots. John Brunner gave a talk under the title "How to get High, Without Going into Orbit". The title gives no indication of the quality of the talk, Brunner started by reading a beautifully descriptive excerpt from EXPLOSION IN A CATHEDRAL (Carpentier - historical). He compared this to a short staccato passage From EARTH ABIDES (Stewart - SF). By comparing these twe excerpts, he explained the relationship bewtween Mainstream fiction and SF. This proved to be a most interesting discourse as he went on telling of SF's 'sense of the grandiose' and the'lure of the exotic'.
John Brunner spoke on "How to Get High Without Going into Orbit," analysing sf in a most erudite fashion throughout a hour long extremely meaty talk. Brunner analysed the elements in sf which are also found outside the field and how and why they are and can be important to sf. Basically, there are the expansive elements of the vast and the exotic and there are the restrictive elements of ordered life and ordered worlds and of wishful thinking. It requires a talent far beyond mine even to report Brunner whose exciting use of vocabulary and whose command of the English language make him a speaker well worth hearing (which is to say nothing of his ideas). As Michael Rosenblum remarked, "From listening to John, I get the feeling that one day I'm going to be proud to have known him."
The evening Fancy Dress Party was well attended by many worthwhile costumes, possibly the best and most thoughtful array of sheer creativity it has been my pleasure to see at some dozen conventions. These costumes ranged in standard from the very, very, good down at the bottom of the scale to the prize winners at the top. The prizes were awarded as follows (Brian Aldiss awarded the prizes):
Heather Thomson, daughter of the mighty Atom, took the prize for the best costume from a girl under 12 years of age, and Harry Harrison's son, Todd, now a veteran con attendee in his own right took the award for the parallel boy's category. It is notable that a representative of the national press asked Tony Walsh to walk down to a nearby Wimpy Bar in full costume…."But you'll be in the Daily Express!" Tony refused.
That night I walked the long halls of the con hotel in search of Mal Ashworth,
who was reputed to be among the hordes at the con; Arthur or Mike or somebody led me on
this fruitless quest. Mal was not there; he'd gone quite gafia at the time. But we stalked
the halls for hours, drunkenly, and became more so as we visited party after party. I
remember the halls at that con hotel as being about two blocks long, like some scene from
Last Year at Marienbad -- I think the hotel had been enlarged by combining with another
and knocking out the walls between them. Late at night and under worldcon conditions, those
halls were like some surreal slice of cinematic life, endless and filled with enigmatic
happenings. Can you wonder that I don't remember the details of the nights?
That night I walked the long halls of the con hotel in search of Mal Ashworth, who was reputed to be among the hordes at the con; Arthur or Mike or somebody led me on this fruitless quest. Mal was not there; he'd gone quite gafia at the time. But we stalked the halls for hours, drunkenly, and became more so as we visited party after party. I remember the halls at that con hotel as being about two blocks long, like some scene from Last Year at Marienbad -- I think the hotel had been enlarged by combining with another and knocking out the walls between them. Late at night and under worldcon conditions, those halls were like some surreal slice of cinematic life, endless and filled with enigmatic happenings. Can you wonder that I don't remember the details of the nights?