Monday 30th March


Monday morning, and I breakfast with someone in dazed state. The remainder of the morning is spent sitting around in dull sorrow, watching people go and hearing promises of convention reports for EGG. Lunchtime with Greg, Roy, and Ken Eadie, the latter quaffing lentil soup with alternate spoonfuls of mustard. Grooch...

I bid farewell to fans and return to Victoria to sit in cramped misery, clutching fanzines. A bloke coughs slightly;

"Excuse me, I've been dying to ask, but what's that badge?"
"Aardvark fandom - been to sf convention," I mumble, and stare at Easter landscape outside.



This was the first con I have ever attended that didn't have anything to do with SF. Arthur C Clarke turned up but didn't even get introduced, let alone asked to speak! There was but one SF talk on Friday (Willis McNelly), one on Saturday (James Blish - but no question time) and one on Sunday.

Professor Willis McNelly (gh)

My panel was cancelled due to lack of time. Brunner's panel was on the environment. J Michael Rosenblum won the Doc Weir Award this year. Blackpool will be the site for 1972 (Manchester Group). There were something like 150 present in the worst hotel I have ever visited in my life. Staff were surly to the point of outright rudeness, attendees were bullied into paying in advance, the manager was 'away' for the weekend, the bar closed at 10.00pm every night. Drink could be obtained by queuing at the back door into the kitchen, where one rude porter served anything you like providing it was light ale. There were six thefts at least, including money taken from a room, the door of which was smashed open; a Mah-jong set belonging to Arthur Cruttenden; two tape recorders; handbags etc. Oh, and for a hotel of 800 rooms on six floors, there were two lifts each of which at a pinch could take four people. I bid for the 1971 con, (the 22nd British con, it will be) to be held in Birmingham, and have already collected 80 registrations. So wish me luck with that. Next year's convention will be about fandom and Science Fiction and will have cooperative hotel. Guest of Honour will be Brian Aldiss.

Longer report by Peter in SPECULATION #26:

Joan Newman, Jenny Chandler, Ramsey Campbell, John Newman (ns)


Tony came with me to a convention at the Royal Hotel, Southampton Row, where we held a con about 25 years ago... around 1950, I think. All they wanted was our dough - the service was pretty rough, and so were the rooms. I shared a room with Phil ((Harbottle)) until, after one night, I changed to a single room with Tony because I kept Phil awake with my snoring....

George Hay had assembled a programme including BBC types Dr Kit Pedlar (of 'Doomwatch'), and Dr Chris Evans a dreams expert who was at Oxford last year. There was a bit too much about computers and teaching machines, but otherwise it was interesting - especially the publishers panel and a speech by Raymond Fletcher, MP for Ilkeston, who is all for SF.

Raymond Fletcher, Vic Hallett, Perry Chapdelaine (gh)

Raymond Fletcher, MP (gh)

There was almost a row over Scientology, and ((unreadable)) Tolkien Society.

Arthur Clarke dropped in Sunday on his way to New York. Bill Temple made an appearance on the same day, but I didn't see much of him - too busy taping.

Elsie and Don Wollheim (mb)

Wollheim and Dave Kyle were both present, Sam Lundwall proved hard to find but we had a good jaw, out of which very little emerged except a tape recording of Phil arguing the toss with him. Best of all I tied up with Orion Press, mainly two Manchester fans (one of whom is in London with the BBC) with a view to printing COSMOS offset litho. They are doing VECTOR, the BSFA organ, for £40 for 500 copies so it would be worthwhile reviewing COSMOS in if I can find time to work it all in....

MUST make a tape of this convention, which BSFA would probably want to buy copies of. And Tony thoroughly enjoyed it, taking a surprising interest in meeting Blish (Guest of Honour) and the rest. He is now properly hooked, and I hope he'll stay that way. Of course M ((Madge, his wife)) stayed home.


According to more experienced fans, Sci-Con '70 should have put me off convention going completely; but I had a simply great time. I suppose one of the reasons was that I wasn't staying at the hotel itself, having a flat in Earls Court at the time, and therefore the appalling service didn't bother me. Also I'd never been to a hotel before and didn't realise that bars were supposed to be kept open after pub licensing hours for residents. I didn't notice that most of the programme wasn't too successful because I attended little of it, missing in the process the great Scientology debate and the infamous poetry reading. I wasn't completely new to things as I'd been attending the Globe for about three months and gotten used to the odd behaviour of science fiction fans. I was still very much a newcomer and to find that some of the big names (to me anyway) such as Peter R. Weston were quite human came as a great shock. I was even asked to write a piece for Speculation, but that's another long and irrelevant story. I remember, in all my innocence, attempting to ask Michael Moorcock, who reminded me of a stoned Tommy Cooper, about Jerry Cornelius. Possibly the most vivid memory I have is of attending the all-night film show when very drunk and attempting to converse, in French, with a Belgian fan who'd made the mistake of sitting next to me. It was a scrappy, seedy, uncomfortable convention but I loved it.


Below is a listing of the original reports used in compiling this composite report. My thanks to Greg Pickersgill for supplying many of these:

  • "Psicon 70: A Drinking Odyssey" - Peter Roberts (EGG #2 - April 1970, ed. Roberts)
  • "Notes from the Convention" - Archie Mercer (BSFA BULLETIN #32 - April 1970, ed. Mercer)
Round Ups:
  • "Eastercon" - Peter Weston (LOCUS #51 - April 1970, ed. Charlie Brown)
  • "The Sixties Conventions" - Ian Williams (NESFiG NEWSLETTER #9 - April 1976, ed. Alan Isaacson & Brian Rouse)
  • 1970 Diary - Walter Gillings

For some reason Walter Gillings's diary for 1970 ended up with me. Before passing it on to Phil Harbottle, I scanned what Gillings wrote about the convention. He was claiming unemployment benefit at the time and the COSMOS TAPE MAGAZINE & LIBRARY was something he was trying to get off the ground. (See newspaper clipping below.)

.....Rob Hansen

From 'Essex and East London Newspapers', Weds 5 Aug 70 (click on image for larger version):

From his CV/resume (the things I have surprise even me sometimes):

"COSMOS...had not seen three issues before it ran into production troubles. Frustrated by printers, I contrived a novel form of presentation by initiating "Cosmos Tape Magazine & Library". But though the Library attracted some subscribers, the Magazine did not develop beyond an original feature on Hugo Gernsback (for which a limited demand came mostly from American colleges and libraries) and a science fiction quiz."