THE OFFICIAL SOUVENIR REPORT
page 9 * page 10 * page 11 * page 12 * page 13 * page 14
Scans of the report were supplied by Andy Sawyer of the Science Fiction Foundation, to whom many thanks. The contents page indicates there should have been a further sheet to the publication containing pages 15 and 16. While the rear sheet could have come loose and fallen off at some point - not uncommon among old fanzines - the fact that both copies in the Foundation's possession finish with page 14 suggests that these may not in fact exist. Should such pages turn up at some future point they will of course be added here.
THE CONFERENCE--- GENERAL VIEWS ---
The organising of the Conference commenced during September 1936, and in the following month, D.W.F.Mayer was appointed Conference Secretary. Fans all over the country were circularised and notified of the event. Notices of the Conference were printed in fan magazines in England and America, and the Conference attracted so much attention in this country that a notice appeared in the columns of that high. class journal "Armchair Science ", which, we think, is that magazine's first reference to science-fiction.
In the last fortnight before the Conference, several delegates were unfortunately obliged to cancel their decisions to attend, due to attacks of influenza or other illnesses, but at last the great day came and passed, and the long-awaited event proved an unqualified success.
The Conference has been held, and a British Science Fiction organisation has resulted. When and where will the next Conference be held? What will it produce? For the answer to these questions, we must wait for the future, or the present of a time-travelling machine.
THE CONFERENCE--- MORNING SESSION ---
Following this, Mr.Walter H. Gillings gave a talk in which he outlined his efforts to get a science-fiction magazine published in England. He described how, after pestering numerous publishers with dummy copies, authors' MMS etc., he had at last, it January 1936, persuaded G. Newnes Ltd., to consider the subject fine detail. After he, and several British authors, however, had spent much time and money, in discussing and solving the various problems with Newnes's representative, the scheme had collapsed in December last, and he was now negotiating with another Company which, in the course of a month or so, might be expected to produce a trial copy, selling at 1/-, of a journal entitled "Tales of Wonder". For the benefit of authors, he mentioned that the magazine would pay for stories at the rate of 10/6d.per thousand words.
In conclusion, he stated that one of the reasons why Newnes had given up the idea was that into this country there is being dumped each month hundreds of tons of American pulp, magazines which come over as waste paper. This includes numerous two-month old copies of science- fiction magazines, all those books are sorted and distributed to "remainder" shops throughout the country,
where they are sold for 3d,or 4d. each. There is
no possible method of finding the sales figures of
these books, which must be enormous, but Newnes feared
that the competition they set up would be too great.
Mr.E.J,Carnell then rose to say a few words in connection with the present activities of American fans, and pointed out that many, instead of working together for the good of science-fiction, did nothing but "sling mud" at each other, and work for their own individual welfare and glorification. After giving many interesting, and sometimes, amusing, anecdotes, Mr.Carnell concluded, and made way for Mr. A.C.Clarke, who described how a branch of the British Interplanetary Society had been formed in London, mentioning some of its activities to date, and giving an indication of what it hopes to accomplish.
The next speaker was Mr. M.K. Hanson who informed those present of how the Nuneaton Science Fiction League, of which he is Director, had developed, and gave an account of its activities. He also said a few words about the chapter publication "NOVA TERRAE" (New Worlds), and described how it is produced.
Finally, Mr. Gillings rose again to pay a tribute to "NOVA TERRAE", and to give a brief account of his high class, printed journal "SCIENTIFICTION", which would make its appearance within the course of a few weeks. He pointed out that there was room for both magazines, as the editorial policy would be different, and hoped that they would both work together in catering for the wants of Fans.
The meeting then adjourned for lunch, the time being 12,45,p.m.
THE CONFERENCE--- AFTERNOON SESSION ---
The third proposal was "that the society should exert influence on authors, publishers etc". This was seconded by Mr.G.A.Airey. Mr.Gillings objected and said that authors did not require influencing, but enquired how publishers, who were "difficult nuts to crack", could be influenced. Mr. Mayer read a letter from Festus Pragnell describing how the latter had exerted influence on Philip Allan & Co., then Mr. Carnell proposed an amended motion, - "that this society should encourage publishers to pay more attention to Science-fiction". This was seconded by Mr J.M. Rosenblum and, Mr. Mayer having withdrawn his motion, passed unanimously.
Following this, it was proposed by Mr. Mayer that the society should stimulate public interest in contemporary scientific ideas and assist where possible, in the furtherance of these ideas". This was secondcd by Mr. B.Saffer, and passed unanimously.
The question of who should be President of the society was now raised. One suggestion was that H.G. Wells should be asked, but Mr.Gillings stated that he did not think that Wells cared much
modern science-fiction, and that he would probably
decline. Mr.L.J. Johnson pointed out that Wells is still
writing science fiction, and mentioned "Things to Come".
A vote was taken, and the proposal in favour of Wells
defeated. A discussion followed, during which the names
of Prof. Low and Prof. Stapledon were suggested. Mr. E.F Russell
then proposed Mr Mayer, but the latter immediately declined.
Mr. Gillings made several further suggestions, which
received little support, until Mr.L.J. Johnson proposed that
the matter be shelved until later in the day, this motion
Mr Mayer then proposed "that various groups should act as executive officials". This was seconded by Mr Saffer. Mr.Gillings said that the scheme was impractical, and the motion was defeated. Mr.Gillings therefore proposed that one or two of the leading Leeds fans should be executive officials, so that they could all work together. This was seconded by Mr. M.K. Hanson, and passed unanimously.
Following this, Mr. Mayer proposed that "NOVA TERRAE" should became the offical journal of the society, it being sent to each member, and that an additional bulletin should be published quarterly. This arrangement meeting with Mr.Hanson's approval, and being seconded by Mr.A. Miller, was passed, after some discussion, unanimously.
Mr Mayer's next proposals were:-
A further proposal was that, as the
membership of the society grew, arrangements should be made
with publishers for discounts to members. Mr. Russell said
this would make the society appear a money-grubbing organisation
and pointed out that a discount of a penny or two was scarcely
worth considering. The motion was defeated.
The question of subscription was now raised. Mr. Mayer proposed 2/6d per annum, Mr. Russell proposed 3/6d per annum, and Mr, Johnson proposed 5/- per annum or 1/6d per quarter. Mr, Johnson's proposal was carried. Mr. Carnell then suggested that the society should not be confined to British persons, but should open to anyone. This was seconded by Mr. Miller and passed. After this, a long discussion followed, duiring which, various proposed names for the society were considered. Eventually, the name "THE SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION" suggested by Mr. Russell, was passed by a majority vote.
The next topic was that of executive officals, a topic which hade been posdtponed earlier. Mr Johnson put forward a motion, seconded by Mr. H. Gottliffe, that the President should be an active member. Mr. Gillings however, suggested that an author should be asked to occupy this position. A ballot being taken, the first place was found to have been secured by both Mr. H. Warnes and Mr Mayer. A further vote failing to clarify the situation, it was eventually decided that Mr Mayer should be Secretary, with Mr. Warnes assisting, and that the question of President should be reconsidered after the society had been formed for some time.
Other points settled about the association were (a) that note-paper and badges should be issued later if there were any demand for them and (b) that in all correspondence connected with the
society, all letters
requiring answers should contain stamped-addressed envelopes.
Mr.L.J.Johnson was now called upon to say a few words about the British Interplanetary Society. This he did admirably, giving an account of its formation in 1933, its early difficulties, its meetings, its publications, its relations with other societies, position at present, and its hopes and ambitions for the future.
Following this, Mr. Russell rose to give his views on British science-fiction. "A science-fiction READER," he said, "is one who buys his magazine for 1/- at a proper book shop, reads it, and passes it on to a friend or throws it away. "A science-fiction FAN," he continued, "is one who waits two months, goes and buys a copy for 4d. at a "remainder" stall, thereby benefitting the publisher not even a cent, scans through it in a hurry, then writes letters telling the publisher how to publish, the printer how to print, the artist how to draw, the editor how to edit, and the authors how to write."
Continuing on this topic, Mr. Russell made an appeal to all British fans to buy their copies from leading bookstalls or agencies for 1/-, and not to buy "remainders". Bookstall purchasing, he pointed out, would give publishers a true idea of the demand for science-fiction in this country, and would help to financially support the magazine, thus ensuring a better production, and a prompt payment to authors.
Mr. Russell's speech over, an informal discussion on various aspects of science-fiction followed, then the first British Science Fiction Conference came to a conclusion at 6.00. p.m.
THE SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION.
The membership of the Association is open to all, see over....
FOR FULL DETAILS AND ALL PARTICULARS PLEASE CONSULT WITH
....and every British fan is invited to join. On the day of
the Conference, four fans joined and paid a year's
subscription, namely, Messrs.E.F. Russell, A. Clarke,
L. J. Johnson and W.H. Gillings,. Numerous other fans have since
joinod and YOU are invited to join at once, by scending a
Postal Order for 5/- or 1/6d, (depending on whcther you prefer
to pay yearly or quarterly) to the Treasurer, 9 Brunswick
Terrace, Leeds 2. A Membership form will be sent in return,
and copies of "Nova Terrae" (monthly) and the Bulletin (quarterly)
will be sent as soon as they are published. Other benefits will
be added as the society develops. COME ON, JOIN NOW.
The following announcement appeared in the January issue of "ARMCHAIR SCIENCE".
This month there will be held in the Theosophical Hall, Leeds, under the auspices of the Leeds Science Fiction League, a conference of British Science-Fiction fans and authors. Science Fiction is fiction developed round a scientific background: it suggests new theories and inventions, and by weaving an imaginative tale around them, indicates the possible outcome of such developements. The tales of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and "The Murchison Mystery" by Prof. A.M. Low, are examples of scientific fiction.
There exists today in Great Britain a growing number of enthusiastic readers of this type of literature, and the forthcoming conference is being arranged to develop their interests, and to arrange for co-operation in the formation of groups, and to discuss with authors and publishers the lines on which to proceed.
YOU CAN FORM YOUR OWN GROUP OR BRANCH OF THE SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION WRITE NOW FOR FULL PARTICULARS, TO THE SECRETARY, SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION HEADQUARTERS, 9 Brunswick Terrace, LEEDS, 2.
PROFESSOR LOW'S MESSAGE***
I consider that a meeting of this kind is of immense interest and that it has a very definite scientific value. In the academic world people are inclined to attach too much importance to what we call facts, They forget that on Tuesday morning the facts of Monday are often found to be lies.
In the past, medical men have stated that 60 m.p.h. would be fatal to the heart, mathematicians have proved the utter impossibility of heavier-than-air machines and in the world of medicine the changes that have taken place are even more sensational.
Much of the difficulty of invention might be avoided if there were less prejudice in the world and if people realised the importance of preparing for tomorrow when we who live to-day will be the poor ignorant savages of history.
Scicnce-fiction is often inaccurate, but if writers will try to keep within the bounds of logic I think they are safe in saying that nothing is impossible which can be conceived by the mind of man. I doubt if even interplanetary travel is stranger than would aeroplanes have seemed to those who lived in ancient Greece; while it is only the accident of time which has prevented our having gramophone records of the Sermon on the Mount. The wonders of things to come must far exceed anything in History.
I wish every succcss to the meeting and only hope that the day may come when we will look back to these flights of fancy and find that they are even true enough to please the League of Nations. A good motto for such a Conference might be "What is good enough for to-day is much too bad for tomorrow".
JOHN RUSSELL FEARN'S MESSAGEThe following are excerpts from "Views on Science Fiction" by J.R. Fearn,
which was written as a message to Conference delegates.
There is not enough CHANCE taken in the project of launching a stf. magazine. The public is there but the publishers are chary of attempting to exploit the field. That there is a public is testified to by the circulation of Scoops before its untimely demise, and the constant use of stf, in Passing Show and in thc form of various books. To the cormmendable efforts of Harris, Pragnell and Herbert all praise is due. These three are doing their utmost to popularise this type of literature in this country. Good luck to them.
American stf., in my experience, is easier to write than English and permits more sensational latitude It would seen that one is permitted, in American stf., to roam through a scientific extravaganza without restriction. Sensation and new ideas go hand in hand and the combination of the two produces a vivid and colourful type of fiction that appeals to all who love the unusual.. ..... As to my own stories, I have little to say. I write them - and I enjoy writing them, and I believe it is the type of yarn like Mathematica that appeals to me the best of all. Even so I believe that stf, authors will get better and better because of the differcnt styles needed for Astounding and Thrilling Wonder. The one balances the other: there is a union which was formerly missing.
Some readers have been bemoaning the fact that we have never quite got back to the 1930 level. This always seems to me rather an odd observation. Though 1930 was the supposed peak year of stf., has not Astounding brought to us, since its
inception, far more modern and and vivid science fiction
than ever existed before? Their thought variant scheme
has provided us with theories never before heard of or
conjectured. For instance - Wandrei's "Colossus", Hamilton's
"Eternal Cycle", Ziska's superb "Succubus" (which I shall
always consider the greatest story I ever had the pleasure
of reading). No, 1930 was good - for 1930. But- now we are
in 1937 and in seven years we have gone a long way along
Science fiction to-day has definitely fallen into three groups - in America anyhow. First, the theoretical new theory side; second, the rip-roaring death defying thrills of space and time, and third, the quieter type of thoughtful science fiction, approaching more closely than any other the type we need in this country. I refer, of course, to AMAZING Stories. Every time I pick up Amazing stories it makes me weep to think that we cannot squeeze a similar magazine out of our own publishers.
In conclusion, may I thank the Leeds Science Fiction League for organising this Conference, and wish you all immense prosperity in the coming year, complete with good science fiction, special rocket planes to bring them to you, together with a private time-space machine in your own back gardens.
THE CONFERENCE MOTTO:
"What's good enough for to-day is much too bad for tomorrow"
When reading "NOVA TERRAE" In preceeding pages, please substitute "NOVAE TERRAE" Sorry Mr.Hanson - my error H.W.