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On the Bonny, Bonny Banks of the Fraser: Vancouver Fanhistory
Vancouver’s early fanhistory is not really lost in the mists of time, but the documentation is fragmented. The earliest, and rather isolated, mention of Vancouver is in Donald A. Wollheim’s 1936 report in
, on a fan magazine called
The Canadian Science Fiction Fan
... which has not been attested by any other source.
There have been rumours of a Vancouver club in the 40s; a friend in Victoria told me in the 1980s about attending meetings of a Vancouver SF club in the 1950s, which were also attended by Al Purdy (who was subsequently a well-known Canadian poet). I thought this was probably the Hibited Men, mentioned in the August 1952
. and in one of Harry Warner's fanhistories; but the central figure, Norm Browne, is mentioned by Taral Wayne as leaving Toronto in 1954.
(Taral Wayne, “Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980” [unpublished, 1981].)
Meanwhile, Out in the West: BCSFA Appears
Such information as I have about Vancouver fandom focuses disproportionately on BCSFA, from which most VCON committee members were drawn. This has been a long-running "general-interest" SF group; members participated in club meetings, some annual parties, a long-running monthly clubzine, and a convention. There was one bimonthly apa (BCAPA) and a writer's group. I joined BCAPA in 1987 and moved in September of that year to Vancouver.
Today, though, in the Lower Mainland there are also several Star Trek clubs, a Dr. Who fan club, the Gamesters of Triskelion gamers at SFU, and the UBC SF Society, each with its own publication. Of these, the UBCSFS
zine (now defunct) made an occasional appearance to BCSFAns. (It took a few years for someone to
that this was a biennial SF revue. It also took several years to reveal that someone in UBCSFS thought the UBC and BCSFA fans were feuding.)
In the Beginning
In 1968, Claire Toynbee and Maynard Hogg started a club at the University of British Columbia later known as SFFEN. Mike Bailey indicates the club didn't really get going until they obtained an office in the Student Union Building.
This evolved into the B.C. SF Association. In later years BCSFA members produced
, a monthly clubzine, several personalzines, and the annual VCON, beginning in 1971. BCSFA members founded BCAPA (an amateur publishing association). Members in the 1970s produced fanzines such as
Amor de Cosmos
(Susan Wood) and
Love Makes the World Go Awry
At the 1969 Clubs Day, SFFEN recruited about 40 to 50 members, largely through the efforts of Daniel Say (he of many polls and questionnaires). Ed Beauregard met his future wife, Norma, for the first time. And the club proposed to produce a fanzine. In order to gather funds, they put on a film (
One Million Years B.C.
). It turned out that the club had to use all its money within the year, or the remainder would be absorbed by the Alma Mater Society for general revenue. (It is standard practice, I think, for student unions to dole out money to student clubs - grudgingly - then absorb the leftovers at the end of their fiscal year.) After November, according to Ed Beauregard, the office hosted some lively Monday-night discussion groups. The club thought of getting Isaac Asimov to come and lecture at U.B.C., but Asimov wrote back that he wouldn't fly.
Vancouver by the 1960s was a Pacific port city of over 1 million people (which was roughly half the population of BC). Greater Vancouver incorporates several smaller cities, two universities to start with (there are rather more today), and some colleges, e.g. Langara and Capilano. This provides a fairly large fan population. Shipping, manufacturing industries and services for a large population meant a diversified economic base, even in the worst of times. In terms of attitude and anthropological culture, B.C. in general and the Lower Mainland in particular bear the “la-la land” reputation that Southern California bears in the U.S.
"The B.C. SF Society"
The "B.C. SF Society" was really conceived in Jan. or Feb. 1970 as the title of a bank account off-campus, to which SFFEN members at the University of British Columbia paid their dues. The original signing officers were Maynard Hogg and Ed and Norma Beauregard. At the end of 1970 or so, this group ceased to be associated with the university club. Its original purpose, in Ed Beauregard's view, had been accomplished:
, a fanzine, had been published in March 1970.
Ed Beauregard writes:
"Early in January 1970 I produced Volume II, no. l of the
UBC SFFEN Newsletter
. Included in this issue was a list of members, a list which it is worth spending a few minutes going over. ...
The core group, the dedicated fans who almost lived in the club office, included such people as Daniel Say, Bob Bells, Mike Bailey, Stan Talarczyk, Ken Stairs, Brent Maclean, Maynard (Hogg), and Norma and I.
"Dan Say was unquestionably the most energetic, the most vocal, and the most enthusiastic of our group. He seemed to have embraced the concept of fandom with almost religious fervour. His 'conversation' was essentially an ongoing monologue filled with humour, insult, sarcasm and just plain bullshit. His appearance today  is unchanged from U.B.C. days, and among callow students he was certainly a sight to behold. His perpetual air of superiority offered no offence, since it was coupled with the most incredible behaviour, which could not fail to leave one laughing hysterically. I became one of his favourite targets, and the verbal jousting did much to sharpen my own skills.
"Mike Bailey was nowhere near as active in the club as he later became. I recall him chiefly offering encouragement and excellent ideas in an offhand, almost apologetic manner. His was the voice of reason, and towards the end of the year it frequently made little impression."
Inside from the Inside
BCSFA and VCON
In March 1971, the first off-campus meeting of the B.C. SF Association was held to formally organize the club, and to promote a convention. A local TV personality, Chuck Davis, became a member.
The first Vancouver SF con was held on April 9-l0, 1971, in the Georgia Hotel, with Ursula LeGuin as GoH. 70 - l00 people attended this gala event, and June conreports claimed "we did OK", although Charles Brown's report in
was largely unfavourable. The con did not break even, but no profit was expected or intended, and the loss was split evenly.
The Elron Awards
A distinction of VCON (apart from introducing dances at cons, as Fran Skene maintains) is the invention of the Elron Awards. These are neither fan-voted, nor juried awards; they're totally undemocratic, and to this day I don't know whether someone arbitrarily bestows Elrons on hapless nominees, or whether someone accepts anyone's and everyone's suggestions. The theme is: "If we honour the greatest, should we not also recognize the least?"
(D. George, VCON III)
The Elron Awards were first presented by Mike Bailey at the first VCON. These included:
1. Special Award For The Elron Hall Of Fame: Lin Carter.
2. Least Promising New Author: Robert Moore Williams.
3. Worst Melodramatic Presentation:
Beneath The Planet Of The Apes
4. Worst Novel:
I Will Fear No Evil
, by Robert A. Heinlein.
The Elrons, we
, have nothing to do with a certain former SF writer.
Another Vancouver con was held on Feb. 18-19, 1972, at the small Biltmore Hotel, with Philip K. Dick as GoH. About l00 people attended; the con featured films and costuming, and Philip K. Dick read an address later published in Bruce Gillespie's Australian fanzine SF Commentary (#31, Oct. 1972). This VCON held no Elron Awards, for some reason.
Most of the U.B.C. fen graduated or dropped out this year, and a lull followed. BCSFA foundered somewhat in the following academic year.
BCSFA revived in 1973; former members suggested reviving activities, over the phone, but things didn't start to happen until all of 32 Vancouver fen met each other at that year's Bellingham (Washington) convention ... of whom the U.B.C. crowd knew just seven (including Fran Skene, columnist Michael Walsh, and TV personality Chuck Davis). Mike Bailey proceeded to get the con's mailing list from Pauline Palmer, the chair, and he contacted the Vancouver members. Informal meetings were held on June 27 and August l0 at Pat Burrows' house, featuring news of Torcon II, books by Michael G. Coney, and a call for articles for Mike Bailey's zine. A newsletter was printed up on August 18. The first
came out Sept. 15, produced by Mike Bailey. After some former UBC SFFEN went to Torcon II, Pat Burrows remembers, several of them were overheard saying, "Gee, we ought to do something like that," but they weren't about to do anything very soon.
The U.B.C. SF Society
The current U.B.C. club, UBCSFS, was founded in 1973 or 1974 and almost immediately started publishing a fanzine, titled
, in 1980. The Society's membership rose as high as 150 in 1992 and 1993. With its 1992-93 revenues, and under editors like David New,
became a small-press market for SF. In fact, David won an Aurora Award in 1992 for his editorship. The club immediately started accumulating books and trade fanzines.
In October, 1973, Fran Skene and Al Betz attended a BCSFA meeting and were exposed to group stories and zany activities. The first large meeting that month was held at Chuck and Edna Davis' place, with 35 people; previously attendance averaged around 10 to 15. VCON 3 was mooted at this point, but no definite plans were undertaken, not even a definite choice of name. VCON 3 became a reality when Michael Walsh just announced it, with full details, in his column in
newspaper. (Maybe that's what it takes sometimes ... ) Pat Burrows also remembers having a hand in getting it off the ground.
VCON 3 was held at the Georgia Hotel, on Feb. 22 - 24, 1974, with Frank Herbert as GoH. 400 people paid $5 each to attend; interestingly, many people attended this con because they knew of Herbert from his mainstream writing. This con made money for a change (about $500). John Thomson first showed his slides at this con (which became a continuing feature).
Elron Awards were presented by David George this year:
Least Promising New Author: Jerry Pournelle, with a Bronze Lentil
for "semi-literate fetishism" to John Norman.
Breakfast of Champions
, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Worst Television Production: The Starlost.
Worst SF Film:
Chariots Of The Gods
Elron Hall Of Fame: Roger Elwood.
Pat Burrows indicates that as early as 1974, VCON was meant as an all-purpose regional convention, and a common meeting ground for fans (and so, to a lesser extent, was BCSFA); but this intent was either not conveyed, or was forgotten in later years. My own view, after attending VCONs from 1984 to the present, is that VCON was indeed an all-purpose convention – in that it tried to cater to
: writers, readers, mediafen, filkers, costumers, dance and party fen, anime and gamers, artists and even dealers … but a lot of these people just
mix, and sometimes the committee ended up paying less attention to some areas than they required. Just my opinion.
The Famous Susan Wood
Susan Wood first made contact with BCSFA at VCON 3. She and Eli Cohen moved to Vancouver in 1976, after Susan was offered a teaching position in U.B.C.'s English Department.
Susan Wood was a Well-Known Fan by 1975, when she had won a Best Fanwriter Hugo (1974) and was FanGoH at Aussiecon I. In all she was nominated for the fan Hugo 10 times: won the fanzine Hugo for
with Mike Glicksohn in 1973; won the Best Fanwriter Hugo in 1974, and again in 1977.
After 1975, her fanwriting and fanactivity were reduced, as she was working on a thesis on English-Canadian and French-Canadian agrarian novels, her teaching work load and, well, a tangled bureaucracy. Her writing was mostly book reviews in
(an SF magazine, later succeeded by
), a fanzine review column in
(in which Robert Runté discovered fandom) and
The Pacific Northwest Review of Books
(founded by John Berry and Loren MacGregor). Most of her fannish energy went to A Women's Apa, which was founded upon a suggestion of hers, and she became greatly involved in the feminist movement. She also founded "A Room of Our Own", a series of informal feminist programs at many Northwest and World SF conventions. Her personal contacts were maintained by congoing and through her personalzine,
; and more and more, her sercon material drew her toward professional SF.
Susan Wood also edited
Language of the Night
(1979), collected essays on SF and writing by Ursula K. LeGuin. Jerry Kaufman writes in his one-shot zine
The Best of Susan Wood
that, about this time, Susan may have stood on the edge of professional SF editing. She did extensive work, as well, on Jessica Amanda Salmonson's
I have somewhat conflicting information on how much contact Susan Wood had with fandom in the early 1970s. Taral Wayne writes:
"Susan Wood spent a couple of years in Regina, where the only other fan for a while was Leland Sapiro, an American publishing a "Canadian" sercon zine called
. She was shortly joined by Eli Cohen from New York, after which they both moved to Vancouver. Her personalzine,
, was rather private and hard to get, not much like Glicksohn's more genzinish
. It was also short and infrequent, as most of her time went into articles for other zines, and her academic work. Before her death, she had accrued a fabulous reputation, both for her sercon and faanish work. Sapiro moved back to Florida before Sue and Eli left for the West Coast, and they were not friends. In Vancouver, having had her fill of OSFiC, Susan stayed rather aloof from the local fandom, preferring instead friends in Seattle who were feminists and pros as well as fans. Her interest in feminism rivaled her longstanding love of Canadian literature, prompting her to inspire A Woman's APA, and at the time of her death in 1980, Susan was an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.
(Taral Wayne, "Same As It Ever Was: Toronto Fandom 1940-1980" [unpublished, 1981])
VCON 3: Differences of Opinion
Ed Beauregard indicates that there were administrative problems before VCON 3; for example, arguments over picking up mail, handling of funds, financial procedure at and after the con.
Not much information is forthcoming about disagreements between David George and Mike Bailey. The men were co-chairs of VCON 3 (with Bailey doubling as treasurer), and Allen Dickson as publicity. George and Bailey began to have clashes about policy and procedure after VCON. As Bailey puts it, he was the one remaining signing officer to the BCSFA account, and "inputted" the funds to the con. David George somehow felt Bailey was "extorting" money from the club. Bailey claims that George also wanted to be president, and arbitrarily proclaimed that he was.
At any rate, for at least the rest of February, both men were putting out their own BCSFA newsletters, in addition to the official one. As it worked out, David had VCON's mailing list, Mike had the money, and neither would give the other anything. At Mike's invitation, Ed Beauregard managed to talk them into handing over the records and receipts to him. The two made an agreement to conceal many of their arguments.
It seemed no longer to be possible to run BCSFA loosely, with no executive and only an informal newsletter. A committee was set up to write a formal constitution, chaired by Ed & Norma Beauregard and including David George, Mike Bailey, Gary Walker, Fran Skene, John Thomson,
. Their document was filled with checks and balances, including a "censorship" provision. This was probably accepted in early 1974 at the Walsh's home, followed by the first regular BCSFA elections.
VCON 4 was held Feb. 21 - 23 in 1975 at the Sheraton Landmark Hotel, in downtown Vancouver, with Robert Silverberg as GoH and Mike Bailey as chair. (Silverberg chose this time to announce the end of his writing career; the concom got all upset, well a little bit, and felt they had to reschedule the announcement to the end of the con. You can see how much Silverberg has since given up writing.) 600 people attended; Vaughn Bodé is said to have made a brief appearance. The concom spent an average of $6 per attendee.
Ed Beauregard, who got a reputation later as a financial wizard, says this was the first con he worked at. He wrote:
"The outstanding characteristic of this committee was how inappropriately chosen the committee members were. The treasurer could barely count, the publications person was illiterate, and I was in charge of programming, though I had never attended a single convention and had little interest in the job. We somehow muddled through, and actually made a pretty decent profit."
Inside from the Inside
This convention’s profit came to $700, out of which BCSFA subsequently bought a Gestetner machine.
The Elron awards were presented by Brent McLean this year:
1. Least Promising New Author: Jerry Pournelle.
2. Most Appalling Dramatization: CBS series,
Planet of the Apes
3. Elron Hall Of Shame: John Norman, for his new genre, "bondage sword and sorcery."
4. Worst Novel Of 1974:
, by Don Pendleton.
The Bid for Westercon XXX
"At BCSFA's October 1975 general meeting, there were presentations both for VCON 5 and for the Westercon XXX bid. David George, of course, wanted to chair the next convention, VCON 5. He had been a moving force in the Westercon 77 bid, and VCON 5 was supposed to be a dry run for the Westercon. We had won the bid in the previous July ... and the VCON 5 and Westercon committees were almost the same people. Because of David George's concern about financial liability, the convention was registered as the Wreck Beach Science Fiction Convention Committee Association (or such)."
Inside from the Inside
VCON 5 and
Inside from the Inside
VCON 5 (1976) was held in May and at U.B.C. (in the Gage Residence tower), for the first time. Gage was not available during the term, which necessitated the change of date from February, but it meant both lower attendance (says Ed Beauregard) and fewer expenses ("cheaper rooms, great facilities" - Robert Runté). Larry Niven was GoH and David George was chair.
Elrons were presented this year by David George:
1. (category?) to
2. Excessive Fiction In The Pursuit Of Science: Apollo-Soyuz Linkup.
3. For The Perpetration Of Terrible Short Stories Which Were Written At Meetings And Which Were Subsequently Published In The
: The B.C. Science Fiction Association.
4. For Assault On The English Language With Strange And Perverted Overusage Of The Comma And Semi-colon:
Marauders Of Gor
, by John Norman.
5. Elron Hall of Fame: Roger Elwood.
A benefit of this con was that BCSFA confans got to work with the U.B.C. conference people. A drawback is that the con merely broke even, and led to more personal feuding.
"My one-shot (
Inside from the Inside
) gives much of the background on problems with VCON 5. For Norma and I it was the end of our unbridled enthusiasm for fandom. Everything since then has had at least a shade of grey. "One rapid consequence of the VCON 5 disaster was the disintegration of the Westercon XXX committee. ..."
(Ed Beauregard, personal correspondence)
Ed Beauregard wrote his first and only fan publication to point out what he feels went seriously wrong; and he kept being faced with, um, less than good bookkeeping. It is of interest to conrunners to look at what
Inside from the Inside
had to say. For one thing, several real, urgent problems inherent in VCON 5 were ignored by Tom Balabanov, by Fran Skene, and by the newsletter (at least Ed says so). For another thing, Ed pointed out his criteria for a successful con - not just profitability, but also fan enjoyment, and new BCSFA members resulting after the con.Because he totalled VCON 5's score at less than 50, he considered the con a failure.
Financially, as previously noted, the con only broke even; Ed attributed this to low attendance - the con was held when University was out, and on the Victoria Day weekend. David George had claimed that no-one leaves Vancouver on a long weekend. Ed Beauregard concluded that VCON 5 proved him wrong. Attendance was estimated at 700 - 800 eight months before the con (except by Mike Bailey); but about 400 actually showed up. Ed felt this worked out nicely - no overcrowding. (Complaints at VCON 4 about crowding led Ed to give it a lower enjoyment rating. At a membership of about 600, Ed observed, the con changed not only in size but in the kind of event it became.) But the low attendance was not good financially.
FRED (F**k Reality, Enjoy Drinking)
Steve Forty wrote in
218 that FRED, BCSFA's weekly pub gathering, dated back to 78 or 79, and that after it moved to Friday nights in 1986, attendance approximately doubled (usually 30 - 40 fans). From the time I moved to Vancouver I saw FRED move periodically from place to place.
VCON 6 / 1978 Elrons
VCON 6 was held in 1978, the year that Steve Forty learned to use the Gestetner for the program book (or was it 1977?). Fran Skene was chair. What became known later as the "Surrey Contingent" joined after this con. Elrons presented by Ed Beauregard.
1. Most Rapacious Author: Stanislaw Lem.
2. Conspiracy Behind Every Plot Award:
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
3. Elron Hall Of Shame: John Norman, for self-plagiarism.
4. Latent Degeneracy Realized Award: BCSFA, accepted by Hen Flanders.
5. Bombcon Award: Prunecon.
6. Where No Rip-Off Has Gone Before Award: The Star Wars Concert.
7a. Straw Rats Award For Mindlessly Derivative Inanity, Combined With Purple Prose By Someone Who Ought To Know Better, and Second Rate Illustrations By Someone Who Plainly Doesn't:
, by Samuel R. Delaney.
7b. One Hundred Monkeys In A Roomful Of Typewriters Award:
7c. Most Original Plot Of An SF TV Episode: "The Lost Warrior" episode of
7d. Go Away Little Sheba Award For Most Alarming Threat To The Future Bliss And Prosperity Of The SF Medium: Roger Elwood for threatening to make a comeback as an SF editor.
7e. Judge Roy Bean Award For Pettiest Threat Of Resort To Legal Action When No Such Was Called For:
, the PBS series, for forcing the projected magazine of that name to change to
Gerald Boyko suggested about this time that
#100 be made a genzine with collected fanhistorical material; a suggestion which was taken up, long after a hundredth issue would have normally come out.
Rain (the Vancouver relaxicon)
There are different accounts of the origin of RAIN (Vancouver's February relaxicon). Ed Beauregard writes:
"The first Rain was conceived in 1978 by some of the people who were not prepared to work on a Mike Bailey concom. It started taking on the character of a full-blown convention, until Norma in particular confronted several of the key Rain committee members and very forcefully expressed her opinion of so dividing our efforts. Thereafter the relaxicon aspects of Rain were emphasized."
Inside from the Inside
Another account is that Rain was supposed to raise funds for a Vancouver Worldcon bid. Len Wong writes:
"In the beginning, Rain took place as a relaxicon, with any profits going towards Vancouver's proposed Worldcon bid. Admission to the weekend was a mere $5, and booze was purchased on a donation basis. ... (My) point is, you knew (then) where the bucks were going."
(Len Wong, private correspondence)
In 1979, members of UBCSFS included Lance Munro (later a BCSFA regular), Richard Bartrop (later an artist in Calgary, appearing at various Con-Versions), and Offer Kuban. Bartrop, Kuban and others founded Horizons magazine in 1979 as a monthly forum for the University members' fiction. In 1980, the name became Horizons SF.
VCON 7 (1979) at Gage featured Jack Vance as GoH, with Mike Bailey as chair, and made a profit.
Bailey says he kept a tight rein on things, but, as usual heretofore, he couldn't determine where the bar money went! He suggested a ticket system, so that the bar sales could be inventoried, but was vetoed. Up till then, the bar had never made more than $200, which didn't tally with the amount of liquor served, or with the mark-up. (A ticket system was in use by VCON 13.) Ed Beauregard says that "the committee was somewhat short-handed, partly because of the residue of previous feuds and the number of people who wouldn't work with Mike."
"The most memorable result of VCON 7 (from the convention organizing viewpoint) is that
we were kicked out of Gage
. This was largely due to an incident on the Saturday night of the convention. The Gage convention co-ordinator came into the bar (which was in the same room as at VCON 13), to complain to Mike about the behaviour of some convention members. In his usual offhand, patronizing manner, Mike pointed out that what these people did on their own time outside scheduled programming rooms was no concern of his. This, though technically true, was not a wise reply.
"There was a Westercon bid under way at the time, for Westercon 34. Becky Bennett (now Becky Thomson) was chairing the bid, although it looked for a while like I might be shanghaied into chairing the convention (something I had previously successfully avoided). The week before we went to San Francisco to bid for the convention, our booking at U.B.C. was cancelled, and we were informed that we were no longer welcome there unless we were to book the entire Gage facility (including all accommodation rooms). I scurried around to find another hotel, eventually settling on the Holiday Inn Harbourside (where VCON 9 would be held), but the damage to our bid was too great, and we lost by a considerable margin. Following that, I declared in BCAPA that I would oppose any further efforts to bid for Westercons or any other outside rotating conventions. When David George's Westercon bid came up in 1982, I carried through on that."
Inside from the Inside
The Elron Awards were presented by Ed Beauregard this year:
Best "Sci-Fi" Novel:
, by David Gerrold.
Least Promising New Author: Glen Larson.
Special Dahlgren Award For Unflushable Turgidity: Charles Fort, whose four books comprise the world's longest run-on sentence.
Rip-Off Of The Year Award:
Magazine's payroll department.
The Ponderosa In Space Award:
The Roger Elwood Inspiration Award For Promoting, Editing, Promoting, Publishing, Promoting and Censoring: The ABC Program Division, for making
Zines in Vancouver
Steve Forty remarks that by about this time,
, BCAPA and VANAPA had been printed on the BCSFA Gestetner machine, but the machines have always been available to other BCSFAns to print their own zines on. Steve started running into the idea that he should print people's material for them; he put a stop to that.
Vaughn Fraser published his last
VCON 8 (Edmonton, 1980)
VCON 8 was held at the Delta River Inn in Richmond, B.C., on May 23 - 25, 1980. Pat Burrows indicates that this was in the nature of a joint BCSFA-VCBC production, largely because Vaughn Fraser chaired it; ProGoH was Roger Zelazny, there were comic-artist guests, and GoH Ted White (then the editor of Heavy Metal) was a big help. For some reason, no Elron Awards were given this year.
The Delta River Inn may not have been a great choice - one of my contributors notes "this is where our years of hotel troubles start."
There was much debate over the comics theme:
Vaughn Fraser wanted to run a combined comics and SF convention for VCON 8. As many fans are hidebound reactionaries, there was a lot of opposition to that idea. Norma and I thought it should be given a chance, and we supported Vaughn strongly. As U.B.C. was no longer available, we had to find a new location. After some looking, we settled on the Delta River Inn ... I negotiated probably the best hotel agreement I've ever managed, and we really did well because of it. The comics aspect integrated reasonably well, and certainly didn't detract from the convention.
At VCON 8, however, we pushed ourselves too hard. In combination with a number of personal tragedies which followed over the next year and a half, it caused us to drop out of active fandom again for a while.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
I received a note from one correspondent that this was the first con at which the bar made a substantial profit; I also received a note that VCON 8 was the first year in which VCON proper made a substantial profit.
Ken Wong found out in June of 1980 that some BCSFAns didn't think their club had a constitution. He replied to this by printing copies of the constitution then in force.
Susan Wood's Demise
In November 1980, after Language of the Night was in publication and Eli Cohen had returned to New York, Susan Wood was found dead in her apartment. She was pronounced dead of heart failure at a Vancouver hospital. The coroner found she died accidentally of heart congestion brought on by a reaction between anti-depressants and a common drug for menstrual cramps.
Susan Wood had been a guest at many cons, influenced Northwest fandom, was a great help to BCSFA activities, and may have been the first to start fanhistory displays. William Gibson, now a Big Name SF author, was a member of her writing workshops. Jerry Kaufman of Seattle writes that, by the time of her death, Dr. Wood was on the verge of a professional editing career. So of course the Vancouver Province ran a really obnoxious obituary.
Susan Wood's Fourth Hugo
In September 1981, the Worldcon posthumously gave Susan Wood her fourth Hugo for best fanwriter.
A scholarship in Susan's name has been established at Carleton University, her alma mater, for students of Canadian literature.
VCON 9 (Vancouver, 1981) - and the Canadian SF and Fantasy Award
VCON 9 (May 1981), at the Holiday Inn Harbourside, hosted the recently-founded Canadian SF & Fantasy Award, for the first time on the West Coast. VCON 9 gave Susan Wood the 1981 CSFFA posthumously, for lifetime contributions to the field of Canadian SF. The trophy was given in the form of a calligraphic scroll.
The chair, Fran Skene, wrote in 1985 that the first she ever heard of the award was in Bob Atkinson's long letter, telling her more-or-less out of the blue that VCON 9 had the honour to host the CSFFA. Fran actually wasn't impressed with what amounted to an edict directing VCON to spend $500 on a trophy.
I briefly attended VCON 9, dropped in one evening on VCON 10, and so cannot comment on them. It seems, however, that our hard-won knowledge of the disastrous nature of the Canadian long weekend on attendance was lost by VCON 10. That is another use of WCSFCCA: to pass on knowledge of what doesn't work.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
Elrons presented by David George:
1. Worst Novel: Starship Women, formerly titled Saucer Sluts, by Victor Coman.
2. Worst Novella: no award.
3. Worst Short Story: no award.
4. Worst Film Presentation: The Black Hole.
5. Worst Television Production Or Series: Cosmos, by Carl Sagan.
6. Worst Fan Writer: no award.
7. Worst Fanzine: no award.
8. Worst Prozine: Time Magazine, for constant referral to "sci-fi."
9. Worst Pro Artist: no award.
10. Outstanding Degenerate Fannish Behaviour (Group): no award.
11. Outstanding Degenerate Fannish Behaviour (Single): no award.
12. Elron Hall Of Shame: Michael Dann, for "Master Pervert Theatre" and industrial strength cherries.
13. Worst Gor Novel For 1979 And 1980: Fighting Slave Of Gor, by John Norman.
14. Photojournalism Award For The Most Worthy Emulation Of The National Enquirer: Michael Walsh, for publishing a photo of Bubbles Broxon.
One odd note about VCON 9 appeared in SF Chronicle and New Canadian Fandom #2/3: Someone signing herself "Corwin Amber", if you please, ripped off VCON for $575 by passing rubber cheques for art. The woman actually produced a driver's license in this name, which is taken from a Roger Zelazny character. (Apparently nobody took the number down.) Attempts to trace her were hampered by the postal strike, which lasted from the end of June to Aug. 11. The artists were paid, anyway. Even though VCON 9 absorbed the financial loss, Tim Bolton reported the con was in the black.
I have notes that more experienced concommers were rather tired, and this year's committee was somewhat inexperienced; plus, the concom was given rather little briefing on whatever CSFFA procedure was. Also, Pat Burrows indicates that the chair, Fran Skene, wanted to put on a relaxicon, and some people fought her on that.
Ed Beauregard writes:
I stayed peripherally involved through WCSFCCA, which I helped set up. There was a lot of discussion about how WCSFCCA should work, and how closely involved it should be in the running of conventions. Among most of those who had been or were likely to be convention chairs, the feeling was that WCSFCCA should just provide seed money, and should have little to do with the actual running of the convention. (My emphasis - G.S.) Therefore, the subsequent comments about WCSFCCA's "abandoning" [VCON 12] leave me unmoved.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
Many years later Al Betz expanded on Ed's remarks. Apparently there was a feeling going around, at least when VCON 9 was being held, that the WCSFCCA organizers were trying to "take over" VCONs; so the organizers bent over backwards to avoid that appearance.
VCON 10 (Vancouver, May, 1982)
VCON 10 was held in May 1982, not at the Sheraton but at a Best Western, in Greater Vancouver. ProGoH at VCON 10 was Ben Bova; FanGoH was Robert Runté; TM was Michael Walsh. Jim Welch and Stuart Cooper were the chairs.
VCON 10 was forced to move at the last minute from the Sheraton Villa Inn ("CROOKS!" says a note from one contributor) to the Best Western Hotel, which meant a rather smaller space. Robert Runté noted in New Canadian Fandom that a number of cons around North America had been forced to change digs at the last minute, like Great White North Con. There were problems with the artshow; and some people made a rule NEVER to book the Sheraton again; but the pocketbook-sized program book was convenient, and the reading by William Gibson was much appreciated, and people kept congratulating the co-con-chairs on such a 'faannish' con.
Since the con already had the normal number of pre-registered and out-of-town fans, they seem to have accomplished the necessary reduction by the simple expedient of not advertising locally. Thus, 95% of those attending were either from out-of-town or long-time fans. All of which added up to this being the most 'faannish' VCON ever.
This may have been a sly dig, inasmuch as the co-chairs had campaigned on the platform of halting the creeping fannishness in VCONs ...
Elrons presented by David George.
1. Worst Film: Superman II for execrable print quality and most unbelievable liberty taken with the original, traditional story.
2. Worst TV Program: "Master Pervert Theatre", Michael Dann.
3. Worst Gor Novel Of 1981: Guardsman Of Gor, by John Norman.
4. Worst Fan Publication: Not The BCSFAzine 100.
5. Worst Fan Writer: Harry Andruschak, for everything written in the last year.
6. Elron Hall Of Shame: "Master Pervert Theatre", Michael Dann.
7. Generic Elron: Grove Press for No Frills Science Fiction.
8. Elron Hall Of Shame: Michael Dann, for his revolting and disgusting manner in accepting Elrons at VCON 10.
Hen Flanders' Demise
In August of 1982, 'Hen' Flanders was found brutally murdered in her apartment. She had reduced her fanac by then to take night courses and pursue her career in life insurance. Her family requested that there be no service, and that donations in her name be sent to the Canadian Cancer Society instead.
Len Wong writes:
... It was either at Rain 5 (1982) or 6 (1983) that the "profits for Worldcon" bit was dropped off the flyers and PR. (I assume BCSFA took the money). Also, memberships were in the $10 - $15 range - same as for a VCON membership. And, the shuck or jive for every cent one had in one's pockets continued. The feeling was not unlike running into a few dozen Moonies or Hare Krishnas in the airport. At the last Rain, I was there for all of an hour on Friday to drop off some flyers for an upcoming VCBC con, and (was) made to purchase a membership. I only paid half-price, I think, 'cuz that was all the money I had on me. I know what a relaxicon is - I've been to a few in Bellingham [VikingCons? -GS.] and had a !@#$ of a good time. I had a good time at the early Rains (I went to all six ... in the belief that it is Good to support local events). ... But every step you took, there seemed to be somebody trying to convince you to give them another few bucks to help the con.
February 1983 was the last time Rain was held.
The Amazing Invisible Con Calendar
Perhaps in response to events like the Constellation Con fiasco, Pat Burrows started to organize the Pacific Northwest SF Convention Coordination Calendar, with the object of providing a clearinghouse for convention committees, so as to compare convention dates and (hopefully) avoid conflicts. But nothing was done to further this idea beyond taking a P.O. Box number. The organizer(s) encountered personal problems and let this project go, like a Westercon bid around this time.
Now, of course, in addition to the traditional convention lists in SF Chronicle, and Locus, and some SF magazines, there are a number of convention-listing zines with different areas of coverage, and calendars on Web pages, and even a newsgroup devoted to conventions.
The Surrey Contingent
By the winter of 1982 - 83, a Surrey Contingent had grown up in Lower Mainland fandom, which began to put out SFA Digest (Jim Welch & Marg Galbraith-Hamilton, eds.). Jim Welch expressed the view that BCSFA was carried away with bureaucracy, having hiked up the membership fees, and having profited by VCON 8 and 9 - but still talking as though financial collapse were imminent. Welch suggested cutting publication costs through photoreduction and, in April 1982, moved that fees be lowered. The motion was defeated. But later, the club went to photoreduction form some purposes, and kept the high fees anyway.
(These were, at any rate, the overt issues raised. There may have been a general dissatisfaction with BCSFA's activities, or with the interest groups actually satisfied; this comes through in editorial remarks in SFA Digest, and in the VCBC Bulletin.)
As Welch put it in some spring 1983 BCSFAzines, he disagreed with the manner of the exec's promotion of BCSFA and of SF. He took issue with such items as the BCSFA SF scholarship fund (was this a dead letter, or a spent provision of the constitution?); but the real issue seems to have been capital vs. interest. Without expressing it clearly, the exec. seems to have decided to save all their accumulated capital (about $2000 in two term-deposit accounts) and let the accrued interest pay for BCSFAzine's expenses during the course of the year.
Welch saw $2000 the club could be using, just lying in BCSFA's accounts; the exec. saw them as capital. The principal was supposed to be saved. Yet somehow the reason, or its importance, never got across.
Discussion was somehow not enough to get each party's views across. (Evidently it would take direct experience.)
In 1983, VCON 11 was held at the Richmond Inn on the Victoria Day weekend. GoH was Frank Herbert; ArtGoH was William Warren; FanGoH was Elisabeth Warren, and TM was Georges Giguere. The chair was Gay Maddin. Attendance was about 375 - 400.
Elrons presented by David George.
1. Worst Novel Of 1982: Spaceways series, by John Cleeve.
2. Worst Film: The Dark Crystal.
3. Worst Gor Novel: A tie: John Norman for Blood Brothers Of Gor, and Sharon Green for The Warrior Within.
4. Worst Fan Writing: Ian McKeer, for Neology.
5. Worst Convention Of 1981, 1982, 1983: "Constellation Con," Victoria, B.C., (NOT sponsored by the SF Association of Victoria.)
6. Worst Hotel Of 1981, 1982, 1983: the Sheraton Villa, Burnaby, B.C., for effectively cancelling VCON 10's booking by raising prices abruptly.
The con lost about $2200. More instructive information would be appreciated - I gather the hotel was too big, or distant. Donna McMahon writes: "It was held on the Victoria Day weekend, and the main problems were hotel trouble and a low attendance, with a high break-even (figure)."
Ed Beauregard writes:
As WCSFCCA was operating by VCON 11, I assisted in the initial hotel negotiations. This was an object lesson in how you can't take on half a responsibility. I initially negotiated a fairly good agreement with the hotel, for the U.S. long weekend, and then dropped out of the scene. The details were not put into writing soon enough, and after the inevitable change of personnel at the hotel, the terms of the original agreement were rejected. The committee simply accepted this, and I was unaware of the change. To that extent, I feel some small responsibility for the result.
A key provision, which was in the VCON 8 agreement, was a function space credit per room night booked. This was initially worked out for VCON 11, but then the hotel reneged and only offered a bulk discount if a certain number of room nights were reached. This is never an acceptable method, because the hotel does the accounting. Sure enough, VCON 11 came up a few room-nights short, and was stuck with a couple thousand dollars extra in function space costs. Vaughn, who was VCON 11 treasurer, had seen that provision in the VCON 8 agreement, knew why it was there, but did not fight the elimination of those provisions in the V- Con 11 agreement. The date was also changed to the Canadian long weekend, and this turned out to be fatal.
I think it is very important to note that there has been no suggestion of financial irregularities with respect to VCON 11. Even though $2200 was lost, it is clear ... that this was the result of inadequate experience and poor planning.
(Ed Beauregard, Inside from the Inside, 1985)
Death of the VCBC
In September of 1983, the Vancouver Comic Book Club had a leadership tussle involving misappropriated funds.
After several months of internal conflict (Len Wong wrote in Maple Leaf Rag #3), Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Partridge and Convention Co-ordinator Jay O'Keeffe resigned from the club (in Sept. '83). Acting Chair Peter Cocking also stepped down, for personal reasons. This left Doug J. Brown and Leonard S Wong as the only remaining Executive Members. ...
A nine-person collection of active members had, months earlier, (around Aug. 2) issued a "list of demands", designed to end the duo's stranglehold on club decisions. While verbally agreeing to the "demands" in late August, work on their resolution was postponed until September, due to the fact that the majority of the members involved were already participating in the annual display at the PNE. At the Sept. '83 business meeting, O'Keeffe and Partridge decided to resign, and demanded $1000 which they claimed was owed to them by the club for purchases which they made "on the club's behalf." To wit:
$300 for a roll of broadcloth, with which to make 30 (unauthorized) broadcloths
$290 to the ComicShop for various books and comics ordered and chosen by O'Keeffe
$268 for printing of "Comix & Comics" flyers - the balance in various miscellaneous and personal expenses
(All of this, despite the fact that the club was still paying off outstanding debts from Great White North Con.)
The demand for $1000 was denied by the remaining executive members. It appears that the duo then took money from the tills to ensure that they would be paid. Additionally, Partridge had several hundred dollars in uncashed cheques, dating back to the PNE. After realizing what was going on, Wong & Brown began emptying the tills they had access to, getting approximately $350.
The VCON 12 debacle: The Right Way, the Wrong Way, and the Fannish Way
VCON 12 was held in May 1984 at the Gage Residence, U.B.C. No Elrons were given this year.
This VCON was staffed by a rather small and inexperienced convention committee. The chair, JoAnne McBride, had recently come back from Toronto, but she had been a previous member and executive of BCSFA.
From the attendance and social point of view, at least, this was an effective, good con. But it came out (only in the following autumn) that VCON 12 had lost over $2,000.
The WCSFCCA minutes of Dec. 4, 1984 (BCSFAzine #140) tell us that Mike Bailey's calculation of VCON 12 figures "var(ied) considerably from the financial report (Joanne) had previously provided." The recorded revenues were $11,842.83 (and US$807.62), and the recorded expenses were C$13,798.26 (and US$208.53), which should have yielded a $1,200 debt - but WCSFCCA and BCSFA had had to cover con debts amounting to $2,800.
The WCSFCCA meeting discussed in some detail what were called "convention benefits" - not only the expenses McBride ran up at Rain, Norwescon and VCON, but the food orders delivered to her home address months before the con, the hotel rooms for other committee members, and the $140 paid to someone for services rendered in Child Care.
The meeting agreed that strict guidelines should be drawn up for the use of con funds. Mike Bailey suggested, and it was agreed, that a permanent WCSFCCA audit committee be formed to examine the books of all cons; Ed Beauregard suggested that this committee must include the WCSFCCA treasurer.
JoAnne admitted later (to some Victoria fans) that she got in over her head, that she did not handle funds and receipts or assign expenditures very well. When VCON 12's losses were added up, and the news came out in the fall, more experienced fans in Vancouver (who had largely stayed out of the concom) jumped all over JoAnne McBride for her handling of funds.
The question remaining is, why was her bid to hold VCON was accepted in the first place? To hear Robert Runté tell the story, BCSFAns already knew JoAnne tended to take on projects and fail to follow through on them; but at the same time, the experienced conrunners were too burned out and/or lazy to do this con themselves. Ergo, they got what they asked for. To hear JoAnne tell it, she was screaming for help and didn't get it. To hear Ed Beauregard or other members of BCSFA tell it, some members asked her periodically how things were going, didn't she need a treasurer?, and she kept reassuring them that everything was fine.
Well. One of the disadvantages of being a fan journalist by mail, or doing research on such voluntary groups as fan communities, is that you get too many utterly conflicting, unresolvable assertions; at the same time, you can't get enough corroborating facts to straighten matters out.
By April 1985 John Durno, now studying art in Vancouver, came out with the You Can't Get to Heaven on Roller Skates Infrequently. Mike Hall came out with the Canadian Fanzine Bibliography (worked up by Taral and he). A new comic appeared, put out by the McCullochs and Paul Stockton of Toronto: To Be Announced, drawn by Mike Bannon.
Where is John Durno now, by the way?
A Local Notable Speaks His Mind
Inside from the Inside, the only fanzine from Ed Beauregard of BCSFA, was a 1985 one-shot detailing some drawbacks to the management of VCON 5 (1976),Westercon XXX (1977) and VCONs 11 and 12.
Ed Beauregard and his (then) wife Norma were original and longstanding members of BCSFA, which is the main general-interest SF group in Vancouver, B.C. The Beauregards filled several roles on VCON committees, notably as treasurers, and often stored VCON's artshow boards. I sometimes characterize Ed as basically working up VCON financial statements, for several years running, from nothing more than shoeboxes full of unvouchered receipts.
Inside from the Inside also detailed a 100-point system Beauregard devised for rating SF conventions, analogous but not identical to the People-Finances-Goodwill Points system of the SMOFCon Game. In Beauregard's system, so many points were given for profits raised out of the convention, so many points for members gained from the convention, and so many points for "enjoyability".
Here's Ed Beauregard's take on VCON 12:
... I have, on more than one occasion, taken a box full of receipts and scraps of paper, and turned them into a financial report. I can tell the difference between simple confusion or poor record-keeping, and outright malfeasance. Norma is a professional accountant, and so knows a little about the business too. What happened with VCON 12 is not just simple confusion.
A major point which seems to have been overlooked is that there is $1600 of receipts completely unaccounted for. What happened to that money? I can understand losing a few hundred dollars of receipts, but all major receipts you would expect from a convention are present and there is still this tremendous amount of money simply missing. I won't even go in (again) on the large amount of money JoAnne spent for her own purposes under the guise of advertising (such as hotel rooms at several major conventions). It also stinks that several major cheques are missing, with no record of why they were written or who they were written to. If JoAnne had merely observed the normal procedures one follows in one's own life (i.e. recording all cheques and what they are for) it would have settled the question of improper behaviour one way or the other.
Nor do I think we even know the true income figure for VCON 12 ...
I furthermore categorically reject this "JoAnne as abandoned victim" nonsense that is being peddled. In various BCSFAzines before VCON 12, JoAnne reported rosily on how well things were going, and how no more major committee positions were open. ...
Several times since reading Inside from the Inside, I have wondered whether the Beauregards quite understood how much of "the normal [accounting] procedures one follows in one's own life" are unknown to anyone outside their profession, and how much really are obvious.
Granted, JoAnne McBride might have been unusual among Vancouver fans, indeed among Canadian fans, for the way she "managed" her own money, or indeed Other People's Money. She might only have been an extreme case. I see no mystery about why $1600 disappeared from VCON 12's expenses - the expenses simply weren't documented, and JoAnne McBride was not capable of accounting for it later..
While Ed Beauregard was writing Inside from the Inside, Robert Runté was writing to me:
These losses are trivial compared to (the) losses of (the Puget Sound) ST con in Seattle - I've heard figures as high as U.S.$30,000. It destroyed ST fandom in the Northwest ...
They (BCSFA) knew damn well how reliable JoAnne is and were too lazy (burnt out) to help, so got what they deserved. In the end, ... she was sloppy, violated some fannish principles, but was honest and, to my thinking, them that does the work get to set the rules; so if the club didn't like her ways, they could have offered to help. (My emphasis - GS)
Be that as it may, the question remains, why did Vancouver fans accept the bid from JoAnne McBride? It looks to me like they would take anyone's bid, rather than suspend the convention for a year.
Jim Welch had become BCSFA president about this time, on a platform of spending club monies, not stockpiling them. As it worked out, now, the club ended up paying out their monies to defray VCON 12's outstanding bills, with the assistance of $500 from L.A. Con II (Worldcon 42). This tended to counter what I now read as financial naïveté on Jim Welch's part, equal to JoAnne McBride's; at least he wrote "You win, Ed" in BCSFAzine, now that he saw the reason for a financial reserve.
Welch wrote in BCSFAzine:
Some people want to find someone to blame more than they are interested in doing something to improve the situation ... my job as president is to stop the controversy and get people looking to the future. I will say this, though. The blame for VCON 12's losses does not lie with one person or one group of persons, but rather, all of BCSFA and WCSFCCA ...
(Jim Welch, BCSFAzine #140)
Someone named Simon J. Hui was publishing a Dr. Who zine from 1985 through 1987; this may still be in print, or succeeded by TMOVzine.
In 1985, the BCSFA executive consisted of Jim Welch (pres.), Marg Galbraith-Hamilton (sec.), Chris Bell (treasurer), Barbara Przeklasa (Information Officer), and John MacLean (VP). I think.
VCON 13 (Vancouver, 1985)
VCON 13 was held at Gage Residence in May 1985. The GoH was Robert Bloch, and the FanGoH was John Berry. The chair was Donna McMahon. Donna managed to talk many of the Old Guard back (the Beauregards were in the treasurer position, and Vaughn Fraser was also on the concom), which meant (I am told) that "the participation pattern had been reversed". (Meaning what??) In view of the number, VCON 13's theme was dark fantasy and horror, and a "dead authors come back" gag was pulled (people posed as their favourite dead authors of SF, horror and fantasy, and gave readings).
Elron Awards at VCON 13, presented by Michael Walsh:
1. Elron Hall Of Shame: The Sony Corporation of Japan, for refusing to forgive and forget, and instead developing the Betamax home video system, thus insuring that the worst would be with us always.
2. Leaping Lizards Award, For Visual Presentations Promoting Unnecessary Animosity Towards Members Of The Reptile Race: V - The Final Conflict.
3. Gor Is In The Mind Of The Beholder Award: Sharon Green, The Will Of The Gods, for setting a bad example for all of our daughters.
4. Least Promising New (To Science Fiction) Author: Father Andrew M. Greely, The Magic Cup, for violating the seal of the confessional, in spirit if not in fact.
5. Grounds for Conspiracy Award For The Worst Science Fiction Or Fantasy Film Filmed In This Province: Michael Crichton, Runaway, for promoting the incredible idea that female future cops will work in the field in high heels.
6. Key-Master Is A Hoser Award For The Worst Role-Playing Game Based On Material From Another Medium: Company War, Mayfair, for offering proof positive that war games are hell.
7. Red Dawn At Morning - Reader Take Warning Award, For The Worst Series Of Novels Based On The Post-Holocaust Theme: Rider Stacey, Doomsday Warrior, for creating America's hopeless last hope.
8. The Five Day Forecast Is Sunshine Award For The Worst Publication Tied In To The Release Of The Film, Dune: Ed Naha, The Making Of Dune, for confirming our suspicion that the filmmakers had more fun than either the readers of the novel or the people who went to see the movie.
9. Back To The Drawing Board Award, For Ideas And Concepts That Are Not Of Their Time: Vaughn Fraser, "The Ether Patrol".
10. A Special Stand-Up-And-Be-Counted Award: The Secret Masters Of Fandom, for conceiving, creating and perpetuating the Elron Awards.
The pressure was on this VCON to perform successfully, on both the goodwill and financial scores. They did this by sticking to an announced budget and limiting expenditures. The fact that the budget was announced in print in BCSFAzine, in advance, may have helped by making it hard to back out of.
I have a note that the Ether Patrol, the SF radio show on Vancouver's community radio station, CFRO, drifted out of the hands of BCSFAns and by 1985 was being hosted by Michael Dean and Kyle Kirkwood, members of the UBC SF Society. They knew Len Wong through the Vancouver Comic Book Club, and later got into contact with him independently.
By 1987, the major activity of the club was holding the annual VCON, with BCSFAzine running second. This was typical of fandom in the world at large; every other fandom, notably convention fandom, had grown and proliferated beyond fanzine fandom.
After local BCSFAns lost interest, the show on local community radio fell into the hands of uninformed university students and a local comics fan with an imaginary grudge; then it fell into the hands of a transplanted Edmonton writer and a couple of furry fans, none of whom had good radio voices, or (really) listenable material. I found it hard to listen to the show. At last report the SF radio show has disappeared from CFRO radio's weekly lineup.
From 1986 through 1989, John C.H. Wong edited C-Space for UBCSFS. (In 1996 or 1997, he became editor of BCSFAzine.)
VCON 14 and the Reappearance of CSFFA
VCON 14/Canvention 6 was held in May of 1986 in Totem Residence. Guest of Honour was Frederik Pohl; TM was Randy Reichardt; Fan Guests were Mike and Beth Finkbiner; Special Guest was Eileen Kernaghan; Artist Guest was Katherine Howes, who prepared the stained-glass frames for this year's Casper Awards.
The con faced several problems at first. For one thing, this was the year when the B.C. government's determined effort to hold Expo '86, a transportation and communication exposition, was inflicted on hosted by Vancouver. This meant a) limited available convention and accommodation space, at U.B.C. as elsewhere, and b) any tie-in to Expo '86 would probably mean some increase in attendance. For another thing, the Gage Towers was booked immediately after VCON l4 for the World SF professional writer's conference - and it looked for a while as if they might shift their dates. (For the sake of coordination, it was convenient that Fran was also Vancouver's contact for World SF.)
Perhaps the clincher was the fact that VCON 14 was due to host the Canadian SF and Fantasy Awards again. In 1985, Fran Skene wrote that the first she ever heard of the award was when Bob Atkinson wrote her a long letter, telling her out of the blue, as it were, that VCON 9 had the honour to host the CSFFA. Fran wasn't impressed with what amounted to an edict directing VCON to spend $500 on a trophy, for a little-publicized award, to give to an author chosen on mostly geographical grounds. But she had heard Robert Runté's arguments for the CSFFA, and the choice of a deserving winner, bluntly, was made easy and obvious by Susan Wood's death. Fran recognized that VCON 9 did nothing to help define the award, by designating the recipient "by executive fiat."
It wasn't until after the con that I heard of any friction between VCON's concom (at least Fran Skene) and the mediafans participating in VCON programming. Apparently, on the one hand, some mediafen felt they were being treated as pariahs (and Pat Burrows for one was pretty pissed about it); on the other hand, it seemed that if not for the continuous media programming at VCON, some people would only have been roaming around, making trouble.
The way Pat Burrows tells it, the mediafen, especially Dark Shadows/Dr. Whovians, felt hacked off. The way she saw it, she learned to be a fan by looking at how to meet other people's interests as well as her own, and some concom members were just not doing that.
VCON 15 was held May 1987 at Gage Residence. This year's theme was the history of SF; the program book was laid out like a classic pulp magazine. Guest of Honour was Sam Moskowitz; FanGoH (unfortunately absent) was Forrest J. Ackerman; ArtGoH was Alex Schomburg; TM was Michael Walsh. Ray Beam contributed an article on First Fandom in the program book.
It was largely on the basis of the welcome I received at previous VCONs, I moved to Vancouver. In fact Donna McMahon wrote "Come to Vancouver!" on one of the draft fanhistories I circulated of the Vancouver community. Upon moving to Vancouver and joining BCSFA, I found myself plunging into some of the club activities: going to FRED, joining BCAPA, attending meetings and contributing to BCSFAzine.
In some ways this worked and in some ways it didn't. Vancouver had more of an economic base than Victoria, then and now. Vancouver had more fans - in fact, more than one fan community, which is why I suspect this here story has big holes in it.
It was in BCAPA (in January 1988, from Ed Beauregard) that we heard that Donna McMahon would be moving to Calgary, and probably her VCON 16 chairmanship would be delegated to him, though he didn't look forward to it ...
VCON 16 was held in May 1988 at Gage Residence. This year's theme was "The Science in Science Fiction"; the Guest of Honour was Hal Clement, the Toastmaster was James P. Hogan, and Science Guest was John G. Cramer. The con received a decent write-up in the May 88 Discorder (the U.B.C. radio station magazine), which may or may not indicate where we are best advised to go for coverage.
Dave New informs me that about 1988, the social aspects of UBCSFS, off-campus, began to dominate over its on-campus activities. Then, in 1989, all but two members graduated (or flunked out of U.B.C.).
The Vancouver bid for Westercon 1991
As I recall, it was in 1988 that Fran Skene came back from a Westercon proposing that Vancouver bid for Westercon 44, in 1991.
In July of 1988, Fran Skene returned from Westercon 41 in Phoenix, with a proposal to bid for Westercon 44. She quickly gathered a core group of old and new Vancouver fans, including some well-known and experienced fans, and began producing flyers announcing Vancouver's bid to hold this Westercon, at U.B.C.'s Gage Residence on July 4-7, 1991. Our opposition was Sacramento, which (I was told) has several times bid effectively for Westercons, and enjoyed San Franciscan support; but other congoers (e.g. Angelenos) were unhappy with the actual conventions they held.
Fran Skene persuaded me to join the Westercon bid committee in charge of publications. I think I had some reservations from the outset about bidding for a large, perambulating convention from out of town, out of the country, and out of the Northwest, but I took it as given that if Fran was for it, then the enterprise was worthwhile.
We produced one bid report, which I based on our answers to the kind of questions Bruce Farr recommended (in Con Games) be asked of Worldcon bids. Con Games and Jane's Fighting SMOFs, be it noted, were the only available clues for me that anyone, anywhere, was documenting convention procedures. Zines like these were hard to find, I think. Certainly Fran Skene was almost the only member of BCSFA (the general-interest SF club in Vancouver) who had, or even knew about publications like these.
I detail all this because, in later correspondence with jan howard finder, I discovered that rumours were going about that this was merely a Los Angeles bid to run against Sacramento, with no local support. Later still, it developed that some fans thought Vancouver won the Westercon under false pretences ... when we had been advertising U.B.C. and Gage Residence as the site, quite openly, all along. This tells you something about what people prefer to believe.
As it worked out, these creative rumours about Westercon 44 were not important. I didn't know that at the time, though: I fired off letters to jan howard finder and Mike Glyer, in legal format, no less, directly countering jan's rumours point by point. Glyer then presented an edited version of my correspondence in File 770, which made my communication look like unmotivated fan mail from Mars, or something. Thanks a whole lot, Mike.
Fran told me later that, in the context of some fannish politics or other going on in southern California, protesting these rumours too much would only confirm them in some fans' minds. This only taught me that anyone can attack the credibility of an enterprise like a Westercon bid, in any groundless way, but Heaven forbid you should defend your credibility. So I began to gain some reservations about this convention bidding crap
At first the Westercon 44 bid promotions played off of nearby Wreck Beach, the clothes-optional beach near the U.B.C. campus. Later, the emphasis shifted to "The Future Is Here. Now.", and sought to promote Canadian literature and SF in the program.
The Westercon 44 bid obtained $1500 in seed money from WCSFCCA for promotions, on the agreement that WCSFCCA would share in Westercon 44 profits, if and when.
I'm not sure that the background of Westercons was particularly well known to the majority of BCSFAns at the time, or was particularly well communicated. I only found out some years later that Westercons began in Los Angeles in 1948, from a Timebinders posting by Don Fitch.
VCON 17 (Vancouver, 1989)
VCON 17 was held May 26-28, 1989 at Totem Residence, with a theme of "Humour and Satire in Science Fiction". Guests of Honour were Robert Sheckley, Spider and Jeanne Robinson; Toastmaster was Bob Shaw; and Desert Peach Guest was Donna Barr. The con made a decent profit, by the way.
VCON 17 promotion was distinguished by some good flyers - for a change, they included a brief explanation of fandom and conventions for people who just read the stuff.
As I remember it, I put in serious amounts of last-minute, late-night computer time with Con Hiebner and VCON treasurer Terry Fowler, both on progress reports before the con, and on financial statements afterwards.
In fall 1989, David New writes, the Gamesters of Triskelion at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, B.C.) started publishing Revolutions (Marcie Lynn Tentchoff editing), featuring game and club news, fiction, poetry and art.
Marcie Tentchoff surfaced again in 1999 as a writer and small-press magazine editor; in 1999 she guest-edited two issues of XX magazine.
The Mythopoeic Society held Mythcon XX (that is, their twentieth conference) at U.B.C. on July 28-31, 1989. Terry Fowler held a number of committee positions for this conference, and persuaded Fran Skene and I to participate. Author Guest of Honour was Guy Gavriel Kay; "Scholar Guest of Honour" was Raymond Thompson; Musical Guest of Honour was Loreena McKennitt. Fowler says she took on most of the committee work when the official chair (in Nanaimo, 20 miles across the Strait) went limp on her.
Oct. 3-5, 2008: VCon 33 at the Compass Point Inn, Surrey, BC. Guests of Honour:
Author Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld), Author Patrick Rothfuss (The
Kingkiller Chronicles), Artist Lisa Snellings (Dark Caravan), Game Designer James
Ernest (Cheapass Games), Dr. Jaymie Matthews (mission scientist, MOST project,
Canadian Space Agency), Make reservations with the Compass Point Inn at 9850
King George Highway; rooms $99 double, $109 quad. Memberships: Adult $60 at
the door; students with ID, $45; 7-12’s, $30 at the door; under 6, free. One-day
memberships available. Write Box 78069, Grandview RPO, Vancouver, BC V5N
5W1, Tel 778-230-1605, or see www.vcon.ca
October 6, 2008 - IPMS Vancouver Fall Model Show - Burnaby, BC Canada
Oct 18: 24 Hour Comics Day (24HCD). This is an annual event that started in
2004 "where cartoonists around the world each try to create 24 pages of comics in
24 hours... To help these cartoonists, some [organizations] will host special 24
Hour Comics Day events." During 2004 to 2007 Elfsar (in downtown Vancouver)
has been the location of the only 24HCD-event in British Columbia, so Elfsar will
probably have a 24HCD-event this year. More info at
Oct. 21-26: Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival; see
Oct. 24-26: Surrey International Writers Conference; see www.siwc.ca
November 16, 2008 - Vancouver Comicon - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
For more info about show, please email
Garth Spencer handed over BCSFAzine editorship to Felicity Walker, at the BCSFA meeting of February 2009. Up to this point Garth had been making a regional newszine out of BCSFAzine, in somewhat the same manner as Westwind or Maple Leaf Rag had served as regional newszines.
One of the long-unresolved issues that came up at this meeting was how to raise funds for the printout copies of BCSFAzine, since the zine was now largely, but not entirely distributed online. As Felicity Walker wrote in the March editorial,
a long time ago BCSFA decided to eliminate membership dues and switch BCSFAzine to an electronic only format. As I remember it, even back then, we knew that there would still be people who would want a paper copy—digest-sized, double-sided, and stapled along the spine; not just telling the reader to print the PDF—so to keep that option available, the compromise was that the electronic copy was free and the paper copy was not.
Apparently we skipped the specifics: how and when to collect the money, and whether anyone still qualified for a free paper copy. According to our original policy, contributors, advertisers, trade zines, and pros all qualified, and since this policy was never changed, we’ve been firing off free copies for the last several months—and, according to Graeme, tearing through the club’s savings.
Some of us are still not willing to give up on paper copies. On the other hand, if readers have to mail us money each and every time a new issue comes out, and only when we receive the money do we mail them a paper copy, there’s going to be a lag. To get regular paper copies on time, the readers would have to mail us the money for several issue in advance—in other words, subscriptions. At the February meeting, we agreed to go back to subscriptions, and to keep a closer eye on the list of subscribers. Because we got rid of membership dues a while ago, no-one has a paid subscription now, as far as we know. Therefore, we’re starting over. …
(BCSFAzine, March 2009)
A typical report from the North Vancouver Friday-night gathering read as follows:
“Three thrilled BIFFers turned out to match wits … er … skill… er … cards against one another, in the return of Gaming Night. This week, we played Colleen’s Doctor Who Top Trumps card game (I lost) and my old, old, old copy of Authors (I lost). I shared my evil plan to publish our own set of author cards, with science fiction authors, and Colleen jumped all over the idea. So when she’s a gaming tycoon, I want a cut of the royalties…
“This week, BIFF invites both the Vancouver chapter of the Urban Prankster Network and the Vancouver Doctor Who Meetup Group to join us. The main purpose of the meeting will be to introduce the Urban Pranksters to BIFF, but since one of the projects that the Pranksters are planning these days involves building a replica TARDIS and having some fun with it, I figured the Whovians would want a piece of that action, so they’re invited, too. So far, it looks like at least 14 people are going to turn out, which will probably be the largest turnout until Battlestar Galactica is finished.
“Looking ahead, we at BIFF like nothing so much as a challenge, and especially
a writing challenge. For our tenth writing challenge, due at BIFF on February
20, you must include the number 9, the letter X, and the term ‘black hole.’
Please be prepared to read out your story from the infamous ‘hot seat’ (okay,
okay, it’s actually at room temperature, so just use your imagination), and give
me a copy of your story on paper or by e-mail, so I can post it to the web site.
“Ongoing: The CN IMAX Theatre at Canada Place is showing Space Station
3D. 1:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m.
“Ongoing: The CN IMAX Theatre at Canada Place is showing The Dark
Knight: The IMAX Experience. 2:00 p.m and 8:00 p.m.”
Greg Slade, 5 February 2009, to BCSFAzine 430, March 2009
A very low-turnout FRED was reported thus:
Two people showed up at the Boston Pizza on Broadway, Garth Spencer and
Julian Castle. I could multiply the number by giving their various aliases, but the
RSN doesn’t want me to. After three or four drinks (alcoholic, in Garth’s case)
they came to certain conclusions. One, people going to FRED should learn sign
language, especially on game nights like the crowded night we found at
Boston’s Pizza. Garth waited nearly an hour for a table and then only Julian
showed up. Two, the Royal Swiss Navy should search for the successor to
Emperor Norton. Three, if BCSFA needs women, as Garth famously wrote in
one BCSFAzine editorial, then we should advertise enticing themes for BCSFA
meetings the way MonSFFA does for its meetings, as by organizing “Hunks of
SF/Fantasy” film showings. Also, Garth has to get off his ass and actually tell
the BCSFAzine trades that the address has changed. (Some people are still
mailing to Garth’s defunct PO Box, and haven’t caught on that we have a whole
new editor, hint hint MonSFFA.) Garth said something inarticulate about three-dimensional
intergalactic hockey with multispecies participation, but Julian
didn’t quite get it. A wooden leg named Psmith. We retired about 10 p.m.
Garth Spencer to BCSFAzine 431, April 2009
BCSFA.net to Be Salvaged
Garth Spencer was going into his act again recently, offering to create a BCSFA
Members’ Handbook in the face of zero demand, and offering to post it on
BCSFA.net. He quickly found out that no one knew who was ostensibly in
charge of our website, let alone how to get some control of it, and Fearless
Leader Graeme suggested Garth contact Greg Slade. Greg said he had no time to
look after the website, and before Garth knew it he was offering to take it over.
Greg has emailed Garth a zip file of the BCSFA.net pages.
Garth is now tasked to produced his own updated version and run it
past Graeme for approval. This will very likely absorb 80% of the material for
the Handbook, and let people receive a more manageable publication.
There is no word on whether anyone in BCSFA feels a need for a
renewed Members’ Directory.
Garth Spencer, Saturday 14 March 2009, to BCSFAzine 431 (April 2009)
Vancouver Fan Meetups
Keith Lim sent a message to the members of Vancouver Fandom on Facebook:
Hi all in the Vancouver Fandom group,
I’m going to try to start posting news about local fan meetups, but I
admit I’m not the best person to do that (I don’t have the habit of posting things
often, e.g. I don’t blog or use Twitter). This is the sort of thing that is best done
by multiple people—so once again, I’m inviting/asking people to help run this
group, if you’re so inclined.
Fan meetups this week are the Harry Potter Meetup on Monday 16
March, and the Battlestar Galactica finale meetup on Friday 20 March. (Check
the News section of the group for the details and links.)
Keith Lim, Monday 16 March 2009, to BCSFAzine 431 (April 2009)
February 7th-8th, 2009 - Game Design Expo -Vancouver, BC Canada (Gaming
with emphasis on game design)
15 March 2009: Vancouver Comicon, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Heritage Hall, 3102
Main Street, Vancouver, BC. Admission: $4.00; kids under 14: free. Special
guests: Howard Chaykin (American Flagg!, Wolverine, Punisher War Journal,
Squadron Supreme), David Boswell (Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman),
Robin Bougie (Cinema Sewer), Kelly Everaert (Jungle Tales, Trilogy of
Terror), Forg (Birth of Jazz), Miriam Libicki (Jobnik), Mike Myhre (Space Jet
Comics), Andrew Salmon (Secret Agent X), Robin Thompson (Champions of
Hell, Hemp Island), Verne Andru, Rusty Beach, Jordyn Bochon & Tim Carpenter,
Laura Eveleigh, Donald King, Steven Snyder. For more information
about this show, please e-mail
or call 604-322-6412.
2–4 April 2009: Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis Convention in Vancouver—Burnaby, BC, Canada (Creation Entertainment for-profit media convention).
2 May 2009 (Saturday): Free Comic Book Day. Free comics available at participating
comic book stores. Unclear what stores are participating because FCBD
website only lists stores that have paid an extra fee to be listed. Example: website
doesn’t list Elfsar, but Elfsar’s website has a page dedicated to its partication
in this year’s FCBD. If a comic store isn’t listed below, phone them and ask if
they are participating.
Tazmanian Comic Connection, 4702 East Hastings Street. 604-298-6208.
11 a.m.–5 p.m. (regular Saturday hours on FCBD).
(V1) Book & Comic Emporium, 1539 West Broadway (West of Granville).
604-682-3019. Open 10 a.m.–7 p.m. on FCDB (asked via phone).
(V2) Comic Land, 3845 Rupert Street. 604-437-4545. Open 11 a.m.–8 p.m.
on FCBD (regular Saturday hours on FCBD).
(V3) The Comicshop, 2089 West 4th Ave. 604-738-8122. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
(regular Saturday hours on FCBD).
(V4) Elfsar Collection, 1007 Hamilton Street. 604-688-5922. 11 a.m.–
7 p.m. (Source: Elfsar website.)
(V5) Pow Comics, 5395 Victoria Drive. 604-321-1402. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
(asked via phone).
(V6) RX Comics, 2418 Main Street (North of Broadway). 604-454-5099.
11 a.m.–7 p.m. (regular Saturday hours on FCBD).
Imperial Hobbies, 5451 No. 3 Road. 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. (regular Saturday
hours on FCBD). [Reported by Julian Castle]
16 May 2009: Vancouver Comic Jam at 8 p.m. at the Jolly Alderman pub, 500
West 12th Avenue (at intersection of Cambie Street), Vancouver. “The Vancouver
Comic Jam provides a venue for local comic artists to meet and socialize,
creating a unique experience and furthering the sense of community. Participants
each take a turn drawing a panel before handing the page off to another
artist. The result is a collaborative story, built by several artists. All comics are
then placed on this website for all to see.” NOTE: Date and location are tentative.
.com/ before attending.
24 May 2009: Vancouver Comicon—11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Heritage Hall, 3102
Main Street, Vancouver, BC. Special Guests: Douglas Wheatley (Star Wars:
Dark Times), Steve Rolston (Emiko Superstar, The Escapists, Degrassi: Extra
Credit), Dave McCaig (Star Wars: Dark Times, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk),
Joseph Gilland (animator; author of Elemental Magic), Jesse Davidge (Mathemagick
and Mystiphysics), Kelly Everaert (Jungle Tales, Trilogy of Terror), Mike
Myhre (Space Jet Comics), Andrew Salmon (Secret Agent X), Robin Thompson
(Champions of Hell, Hemp Island), Laura Eveleigh, Mary Karaplis, Donald
King, Carrie McKay, Critical Hit Comics, New Reliable Press, Capilano University
IDEA students. Dealer Tables: $50/centre; $60/wall. Admission: $4.00.
Kids under 14: free. For more information about this show, please email
or call 604-322-6412.
29 May 2009 (Friday), 5 p.m.–8 p.m.: Funday Sunnies official launch party
(comics) at Lucky’s Comics, 3972 Main, Vancouver. 604-875-9858. “The official
launch of Cloudscape Comics’ newest anthology, Funday Sunnies, a hilarious
full-colour tribute to the classic newspaper strip!” [Reported by Julian
5–7 June 2009: ConComCon 16—Compass Point Inn in Surrey, British
Columbia. (ConComCon is a convention-type gathering of the conrunning
community.) Memberships $35. Write the co-chairs Alex von Thorn (Seattle) or
Marah Searle-Kovacevic (Toronto) C/O either: ConComCon 16, C/O SWOC, Box
1066, Seattle, WA 98111, USA, or ConComCon 16, 151 Gamma Street,
Toronto, Ontario, M8W 4G3, or e-mail concomcon16@worldhouse .com .
12–14 June 2009: Anime Evolution—Vancouver, BC, Canada: Vancouver’s Japanese
Animation Convention and Asian Popular Culture Festival; at the Vancouver
Convention and Exhibition Centre, Vancouver, BC.
17–19 July 2009: BC RenFest 2009, probably at Aldor Acres. Keep watching
2–4 October 2009: VCon 34 at the Compass Point
Inn, Surrey, BC. GOHs: Author Tanya Huff, Art-
GOH Miles Tweet (SF and fantasy film illustrator).
Hotel: Compass Point Inn, 9850 King George
Highway, Surrey, BC, V3T 4Y3,
compasspointinn .com . Reservations: +1-800-663-
0660. Box 78069, Grandview RPO, Vancouver, BC
V5N 5W1; phone: (778) 230-1605; website:
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