LXICON - THE PROGRAMME BOOKLETThe Eastercon 1961 Programme Book is 40 pages long (plus covers and excluding blank pages). Those pages that are ads have not been included here. What follows is just the editorial material. Design, headers, and artwork (drawn directly onto wax stencils) by Eddie Jones, production by Norman Shorrock.
Outstanding in the fact that we have with us Mr Kingsley Amis, who has rendered S-F a great service this year with his book "New Maps Of Hell" ....... outstanding because we have had full cooperation from the publishers whose displays you will see around the hall ..... outstanding in many other respects as you will, in due course discover.
The Convention Committee welcome those of you who have been fortunate enough to be physically present -- and those of you who, from a distance, support this annual gathering 'of the clans' we welcome with this souvenir programme booklet as some light recompense for your absence. All Convention members will receive the Final Report which will follow in due course.......
To those of you who have just received this programme at the registration desk, we would like to point out two things. The first is the Map of Gloucester (at the end of the Programme Section), the second is the Official Eatery Guide which is used in conjunction with the map. Usually much time is wasted looking for cafes, so we've pointed out the best - and in one case the ONLY one which is open on a Sunday! We hope that the lesser gourmet find it useful!
The Programme, as in all previous years, will be adhered to as far as is possible, and we do ask those of you who are presenting programme items to be on hand and 'ready to go'! Each programme item has been allotted a NUMBER which you will find on the left-hand side of the appropriate page. This number will be displayed on a black- board outside the Con Hall and you are asked to refer to it in the event that we have to switch items. Notices regarding other meetings may be affixed here....
Finally, as Chairman of the 1961 Convention, I would like to thank all those who have worked so hard to make this Con possible, especially NORMAN SHORROCK who produced this booklet in almost a last minute rush. I am sure that their efforts will be rewarded if you all have a wonderful time.........
To next year's Convention Committee (whoever they may be) we throw out this challenge ....... we have laid the foundation blocks.... can you use them to build an even better Con next year?
The definition is Kingsley Amis's. Pseudo-art is not the only subject he has treated in this cavalier way. He is masterly at producing new Categories of Untouchables; for instance when one of his characters says of another "Oh God, he's the sort of man who tells you things", I see a whole class of grinning and informative young men standing convicted (and I wince a bit myself!)
All the more pleasing, then, to catch Kingsley walking voluntarily among the Untouchables himself, by publicly professing himself a reader (an enjoyer not a trend-hound!) of science fiction. He has so much to lose!
A lecturer in English at Swansea's University College, he first won general fame as the author of "Lucky Jim", the funniest novel since the war, despite such opponents as "Private Angelo" and "Billy Liar". Since then he has written three other novels, won the Somerset Maugham Award for one of them, been literary critic, jazz critic, and essayist, besides surviving numerous controversies and the TV cameras. In short, before he is forty he is regarded in this country as one of our most alive novelists, and abroad - a German friend assures me - as having taken over the mantle of both P.G. Wodehouse and John Galsworthy. On the surface it sounds like a reasonable and successful career.... yet there have been ominous undertones.
Even in "Lucky Jim", Dixon has a penchant for pulling his Martian
Invader Face. The hero of his second novel, "That Uncertain Feeling", was
reduced to boredom because he had read his 'Astounding' (er, that's what it
used to be called in the good old days, son) and he had a while to wait
before the twentieth of the month brought the next issue; incidentally this
detail irritated at least one critic, whose name, Allsop, Kingsley might well
have coined himself. And then there was the s-f play under Kingsley's name
on the Third Programme. After that things went from bad to worse. He took
over from the aged lady don (I think it was) as the Observer's s-f critic,
he became one of the selectors of the SF Book Club, and he finally burned
his boats by publishing an unmistakeable s-f story in last Christmas's
After which, having learnt the value of effrontery - as he said in another context - he came out with "New Maps of Hell", a full-scale survey of....... science fiction.
Kingsley always does things thoroughly. He has put himself even more thoroughly among the Untouchables (no, dear lady fen, there I include you out) by agreeing to be the Guest of Honour at this Easter Science Fiction Convention. By doing so he honours us all greatly.
In Kingsley Amis we have a most invaluable critic, one who can interpret not only us to us, but us to Them, the outside world from which we must expect understanding, authors and support, if s-f is to continue to expand and progress as I believe it is at present. The importance of "New Maps of Hell" in working towards this goal cannot be underestimated. Its publication is the most vitalising event of this s-f year.(Yes he'll autograph copies.....)
Perhaps this sounds unduly serious when we are all getting together to have a good binge and enjoy ourselves. Just wait till I wipe the steam off my spectacles and I'll be with you. But science fiction has brought us to Gloucester, and Kingsley Amis has done science fiction a good service, for which we are grateful.
You see I have hardly left myself room to say that you couldn't have invited a better companion for a celebration. We are fortunate too that he promises to bring his very engaging wife with him. Mr. and Mrs. Amis, I insist - this first round's on me........
Anyway, most fans have their own ideas of the last year or two of s-f. There are amongst us a number who don't recall some of the older yarns, and it might be a good idea if I just wrote a little about yarns that do stick in my mind ..... good, bad and indifferent.
Perhaps the first magazine s-f story (in the accepted sense) that I can recall reading was the good old Skylark of,Space" by E.E. Smith. As this one was fairly recently issued in pb form in this country, many of you will know it - and not think highly of it. It is memorable to me because of the sheer vastness of the concept in those far-off days. Most s-f yarns were somewhat akin to Wells' "The New Accelerator", concerned only with a very small group of people, a very tiny discovery or development, and usually ending in the destruction of the idea, discovery, or what-have-you.- no "extrapolation" of the consequences of the discovery, nothing more than s-f on the laboratory scale.
Consideration of the effects of events and discoveries on people in general was given by Doctor Keller, and many of his stories are based on this .... I recall "Free as the Air" among these early "sociological" s-f tales.
When the scope of a story was vast it was all too often a story of cosmic disaster, again with no real "vast" scope. The action was usually centred on a small group of people, and the threat was only made vast by words ...not by implication,
not by action, but by
words from the mouths of the central characters. This was not always,
true, however, and I recall the novel "Red Snow" by F. Wright Moxley
was a story I have read many times subsequently - from different
pens, in different ways.... but very rarely as well done.
Of course I recall Verne's novels, but regret to inform you that they never impressed me anywhere as much as did the "Professor Challenger" stories of A. Conan Doyle. This is perhaps because the boisterous Professor, operating on a "try it and see!" principle in many cases, appealed to me. I have always tried to avoid the people who tell you it can't be done. I'd much rather have a demonstration, and see it get done!
Two stories which impressed me greatly, despite being short items, were "Cleon of Yzdral" and "Through the Vibrations" by P. Schuyler Miller. They appeared in AMAZING around 1930 or 1931, and at that time I'd not yet met Abraham Merritt's work; perhaps if I'd read Merritt first they'd have impressed me less. But if you care for semi-mystical fantasy with a psuedo-scientific base (the story concerns a different vibratory world, the one to which Atlantis was transmitted from ours, and has something of the 'geiss' principle which impels the hero - and the reader - in such stories as "The Dwellers in the Mirage") then these two are worth tracking down. On the other tack I recall one of Miller's early yarns for a very clear exposition of the problems in communicating with aliens, and, a very fine effort at an early (non-telepathic) solution. This was "Tetrahedra of Space", and it too was around 1931 - although it was reprinted around the late '40's in STARTLING or TWS.
John Russell Fearn captured my imagination in the mid-30's with "Mathematica" and "Mathematica Plus", but whilst I can recall the serial length stories of his like "Liners of Time" and "Intelligence Gigantic", I'm afraid it is not with any great delight. These stories I recall as complicated and unsatisfying. I always had the impression that a lot of loose ends just got lost in the various movements of the characters. The first fictional treatment of history - apart from the delightful tales of Rudyard Kipling - with a fantasy theme which I read was the Viereck & Eldridge survey of the erotic' customs, philosophical schools of thought,and general cussedness of mankind contained in the four and a half hundred pages of "My First Two Thousand Years", in which the story is told from the viewpoint of the Wandering Jew. I was about twelve at the time, and had access to the adult section of the Tate Library at Maidenhead by using my grandmother's ticket. I used to write a list of the books I wanted, and present this with the ticket to the librarian; who I presumed realised that in fact I was actually the reader of the books, as after my first few visits he, allowed me into the 'stacks' to pick "the books for my grandmother", and the paper list pretence was no longer used. The trilogy of Viereck & Eldridge have long remained on my favourite reading list.
Perhaps the earliest novel of pure fantasy I read was John Masefield's "The Midnight Folk", and to readers who have delighted in the fairy stories of C.S.Lewis (as opposed to the "Silent Planet" trilogy) and items like Tolkien's "The Hobbit"
I recommend they
look this one up. So far as I know it is obtainable through any
public Library service, although the companion work (the title of
which escapes me) is much more difficult to obtain.
Of course, on the lighter side of fantasy there were W.A. Darlington's books; "Alf's Button", "Alf's Carpet" and "Wishes Limited" I can recall although it's over fifteen years since I last scanned them. There was at least one more, but obviously it didn't impress me as I can remember neither the title nor the faintest idea of the subject. The first, and perhaps the best, was "Alf's Button" - which was filmed - and although the humour may seem a little slow by modern standards, anyone who cares to read it will be rewarded by the perpetration of some really horrible puns when the genie doesn't cotton on to the terminology of the trenches, circa 1916.
Folk who like the Arcot, Morey and Wade series of John W. Campbell, (which I trust is familiar to most of you) might find pleasure in a somewhat earlier and slightly more primitive pair of stories by Harl Vincent, titled "Venus Liberated" and "Faster Than Light". Both appeared in AMAZING SzCRIES QUARTERLY, I am sure, and the first was in 1929. In the second story Vincent takes the reader way outside the solar system, to meet strange metallic men of another sun, an idea very similar to the one used in Campbell's series.
On the hard-covered side, about the same time as Campbell's "The Mightiest Machine" was delighting me in ASTOUNDING, I arrived at the "W" section of the public library, and discovered Charles Williams, Dennis Wheatley and Sydney Fowler Wright. "Beyond the Rim" by the last named I still recall with affection as introducing me to the mystery of the "flat earth" fanatics; for a while I was nearly convinced, but either common sense or public opinion (both very fallacious) won me back to more acceptable lines of thought.
Along this rather winding trail I am of course only picking out odd high lights, and ones which I can recall without making use of reference books. If I looked things up, I'd promptly strike new trains of thought from titles or names which don't spring to mind, but which I could hardly avoid seeing. For instance, somewhere about here I picked up an old copy of "Chums Annual" which had a long yarn in it about Martian Exploration. The book was already several years old, but the story I recall as striking even now. I can't recall the title, or the author, but I can recall that one point of similarity between this and a story in an "Interplanetary" issue of Wonder Quarterly was the method of drive for the space vessel - the energising of a rare element which then became anti-gravitic, the WQ story was in the Fall '33 issue, I think, and was by a German author. I can remember this story quite clearly - but again title and author escape me.
A series of stories which started around 1930 with the "Jameson Satellite" and continued right through - with gaps - to the '50's was written by Neil R. Jones, and can, I think, quite adequately be called the "Future History" series of the '30's.
The stories are
divided into two main sets, the "Professor Jameson", and the "Durna
Rangue" groups, with a number of other steries which were all connected
into a whole by Jones in one yarn published in AMAZING somewhere
around 1935. In this particular story, Jameson and the other 'Zoromes'
- living brains immortalised in mechanical bodies - return to Earth
and with the aid of a 'past time viewer' follow the history of man-
kind until the "Astounding Exodus" when the remnant of mankind leave
the Solar system for (I think) Sirius. There are about ten or twelve
stories in the "Durna Rangue" series, of which I best recall "Little
Hercules", and nearly two dozen "Zorome" yarns. The "Durna Rangue"
series are connected with the activity of a scientific and rather
horrific cult; the "Jameson°" ones, after the first ("The Jameson
Satellite" in which Professor Jameson's body is fired in a capsule into
space to become an orbital satellite) are somewhat harder to 'group',
they deal with adventures of the "Zeromes" on various worlds they
visit in exploratory voyages and cover a quite wide range.
Miles J. Breuer was, in his own right, a fairly prolific author from about 1928 until the mid-thirties, but of all his stories I recall best the two he wrote in collaboration with Clare Winger Harris in one case, and with Jack Williamson in antoher. Both stories appeared in AMAZING, the first, "A Baby on Neptune" in the monthly at the end of 1929 - the December issue, I am sure, and the second in the 'Quarterly' at around the same time. The second was a real full- length novel, and dealt with the colonisation of the Moon. Admittedly, not quite the way we envisage it today, but when I read the story again recently, I still enjoyed it. One other story I recall was "The Gostak and the Doshes", a Wellsian fantasy, anti-war. Some of Breuer's other work was enjoyable, but I'll leave you to find out for yourselves.
Early stories by authors still producing in the field I find hard to recall. In fact, in scratching the head over it, I think that Murray Leinster's duo "The fifth Dimensional Tube" and "The Fifth Dimensional Catapult", are the only two which mean anything to me. And I remember these more for the cover of one, depicting a golden- leaf-shape with a carriage slung below, the thing being propelled through the air by a reddish crystal. Why this should stick with me, I don't know......
Then there was the work of Stanely G. Weinbaum. I do not mean the "Dawn of Flame" and "Black Flame" stories, but those too few stories like "A Martian Odyssey" and its sequel, and "The Parasite Planet". The Aliens depicted by Weinbaum have yet to be equalled, except in very isolated instances. But the name of Weinbaum is still mentioned often enough to have been heard of by most fans. Warner van Lorne gets mentioned, but usually with scorn. I don't know why, except perhaps he had rather too much similarity in several of his stories. Nevertheless, until one rather catastrophic story which was his last appearance, several of his tales were definitely good. "Strange City" and "The World of Purple Light"
were sufficiently adequate to have
been copied by later authors in many respects, and "Glagula" I
think stands out as a very fine treatment of the "stranded alien"
theme. Of course, under this name, F. Orlin Tremaine wrote "Upper
Level Road", an extremely fine short yarn. But the later stories
were written by someone else....
Any mention of s-f, early, would hardly be complete without a mention of Edmond Hamilton. So much of his early work was good swift action material.... I find several stories, incomplete as to plot or title, spring to mind. I guess I will settle for one I can recall- "The Universe Wreckers", a three-part serial in AMAZING, around the beginning of the '30's.
Perhaps I'd better conclude with a few references I can't quite fill in - there were two or three stories by Leslie F. Stone, with the Gold, Silver and Bronze men - one of whom marries a girl from Earth, and they journey to a world of butterfly creatures; that series by Laurence Manning about "The Man Who Awoke", in WONDER STORIES, in which the hero sleeps through aeons, awaking at various stages in man's development, until finally he arrives at the time when mankind is spreading through the stars; those stories of the lost tribe (was it?) by Capt. S.P.Meek, one of which was "Drums of Tapajos'°...........
Much of this can be found in the B.S.F.A. Library and, if you have never delved into those musty - and often fragile - piles of mags, it is not too late to start.
FOUR SEAS CHINESE RESTAURANT
In SOUTHGATE ST. Turn right out of the Hotel, walk for about 100 yds then restuarant is on your left. Both ENGLISH & CHINESE dishes are served here and the place is OPEN ON SUNDAY. Prices: 2/- to 8/-.
But then if you want to pay a good price for a meal you might just as well use the Restuarant in the NEW COUNTY HOTEL ITSELF, which has prices about the same as the average Hotel.
There are a number of small restuarants, cafe's et al if you want to go looking, but few are open on Sundays and the ones listed above are the nearest to the NEW COUNTY.
FOR A QUICK MEAL ON SUNDAY THE 4 SEAS RESTUARANT IS THE BEST BET.
This guide has been compiled by Bob Parkinson for the lesser gourmet who has to count his shekels before deciding whether to buy a mag or eat.
Last year his survey of Science-Fiction, "New Maps of Hell", was published, and immediately won acclaim as the best book on the subject written by an 'outsider' ... an outsider in the sense that he is not an SF 'pro'. This book, however, is much more than just a good survey, for it serves as a bridge between the world of SF and the 'outside', if only in a rather tentative way.
Amis was born into a lower-middle-class home in Clapham, London, on April 16th, 1922, and grew up in Norbury. He was a pupil at the City of London School from 1934 until 1941; studied at St. John's, Oxford between 1941 and 1942, and returned there in 1945 after a spell in the army, which, says Amis, "Clears the mind wonderfully." He left Oxford in 1949, an established 'University Wit', to lecture in English at University College of Swansea.
In 1953 a volume of poetry, "A Frame of Mind", by Amis was published, this was followed in 1954 by his famous first-novel, "Lucky Jim". "Lucky Jim" has run to twenty-one editions, and has been translated into nine languages. It has been filmed by the Boulting Brothers, starring Ian Carmichal, and also serialized in the Evening Standard. Its chief character, Jim Dixon, emerged as the new 'hero' of English Literature; the innocent intellectual who gets tough at the slightest hint of phoneyness. Critics acclaimed Amis as "..one of the leading writers of our time" and "one of the leading 'Angry Young Men'." This last term is not liked by Amis in respect to himself, he prefers to describe himself as "An elderly young intellectual, perhaps with connections in the educational and literary worlds, with left-wing sympathies." Nevertheless, Amis is one of the founders of the tough-intellectual school of writing, together with John Wain and John Braine.
In Amis' second novel "That Uncertain Feeling", we are introduced to John Lewis, assistant librarian in a Welsh town, who reads ASF in his spare time; this being the first indication that Amis is an SF fan himself. This became more apparent in 1957 when the BBC's Third Programme broadcast a pure SF play by Amis, "Touch and Go". This was no mundane Jet Morgan stuff about first landings on the Moon in the near future, but an SF story set in the far future concerning the adventures of an advance party on an alien planet. The characters talked quite casually about such topics as hyperspace and anti-grav landing grids, yet this did not destroy the feeling of realism that pervaded the play.
A year later, during 1958-9, as a visiting lecturer at Princeton University, Amis gave a series of talks on SF for Seminars in Criticism. These formed a basis for his survey "New Maps of Hell", which has been mentioned earlier.
Whilst reviewers have attacked Amis' conclusions on SF
they consistently praised the book's writing and importance, Amis
considers that SF is important, and must lead 'straight' literature into
the future, a view shared by many fans and authors of SF.
In the same way that Patrick Moore is fanatical about SCIENTIFIC SF, Amis is fanatical about SOCIOLOGICAL SF, and, rates Pohl and Kornbluths' "The Space Merchants" as a yard-stick for all good SF.
In his introduction to Sarban's fine novel "The Sound of his Horn" Amis distinguishs SF from fantasy by saying: "One could argue that fantasy appeals to deeper and darker instincts than does SF, The fears that find expression in it are not rational fears of an overgrown technology or a gradually encroaching totalitarianism, but ancient irrational fears of the world which science has blotted out of the conscious thought, the world of unseen forces beyond the extrication of science, to be seen more clearly in terms of the past, obviously, or in remote areas where the rule of science does not run."
Amis is also a Jazz Fan, in his own words: "Make mine Chicago-style", despite the efforts of his students to convert him to modern-jazz he still . prefers the 1920-style white-jazz (New-Orleans influenced) of Bix Beiderbecke and Eddie Condon.
Despite his many toyings with the idea of moving to London, Amis is still lecturing in English at Swansea, where he lives with his wife and two children. He contributes regularly to the Spectator and Observor, mainly criticisms of SF and jazz, and is also a keen fan of Television and the Cinema.
Amis has had two other novels published, "I Like It Here" (1958) and "Take a Girl Like You" (1960) ; and two other poetry collections, "A Case of Samples" (1956) and "Bright November" (1958). He is also on the selection committee of the Science Fiction Book Club.
FOR THE BENEFIT OF anyone new to Fandom, and to science-fiction
Conventions. TAFF - THE TRANS-ATLANTIC FAN FUND - Exists to
enable British fans to attend American Conventions, and U.S.A.
Fans to visit British Conventions. You'll find most fans agree that
it is a very worthwhile thing. I would also add (as a recent TAFF
representative) that it is a very wonderful thing.
As often as is financially possible an election is held, and the nominated fan who receives the greater number of votes is sent (carriage paid!) to the years major convention across the ocean. Naturally, the Fund alternates between America and the United Kingdom.
THE TRANS-ATLANTIC FAN FUND is off to a fine start this year' largely due to the generosity of American Fans at the Pittsburgh World Convention (1960) and to the Convention Committee who orgahised the affair and who were kind enough to send a sizable donation to TAFF after they'd balanced their books. NEVERTHELESS ...your VOTE and your help is still needed, particularly so if your friendly TAFF administrators are to succeed in their aim of not only having an American TAFF Representative at the 1962 British Convention, but also to send a Representative to that years World Convention in America.
IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY VOTED, grab like quick a VOTING FORM (They'll be available at the Convention), and hand it to Eric Bentcliffe with your subscription. Minimum subscription 2/6....there's no maximum.
AND WHILE YOU ARE SPENDING MONEY! TAFF REPORTS generally make rather interesting reading, and you can order two of these at the same time you vote. There's the story of Don Ford's 1960 visit to England (and France), TAFF BAEDEKER, price $1.25 or 8/6. And Eric Bentcliffe's EPITAFF, the tale of his visit to.Pittsburgh and America.... 7/- or One Dollar. Both reports run to almost one hundred quarto-pages, and profits from the sale of both go to TAFF. Which, latter, reason is why they are being sold. Both Don and Eric feel like giving out free-copies to everyone in thanks for their wonderful trips but this way they can pay TAFF back a little for what it did for them.
SHOULD YOU BE UNABLE TO READ this at the convention ...due to having inadvertantly drunk one of Norman Shorrock's specials too quickly, your hands are shaking too much after seeing Galactic Tourists all over the place (Rumour has it that this year Brian Burgess is coming as Himself!) You can send your vote postally to either TAFF Administrator (make postal. orders or cheques payable to them personally, please, not to TAFF).
Eric Bentcliffe, 47, Alldis St., Great Moor, Stockport, Cheshire.
Who both wish you A HAPPY CONVENTION
Mentioned in the various reports but not included above are Kingsley Amis, Margaret
Aldiss, Ted Tubb, Ken Bulmer, Don Geldart, Arthur Thomson and Jimmy Rattigan, though
it's unclear whether or not Bulmer actually attended the con. Named above but definitely
not present were Don Ford and Doc Weir. If we assume several others joined after
March 2nd, and that Don Ford and Doc Weir weren't the only ones on the above list who
weren't there, then it seems reasonable to put the number physically present at around 80
or so. - Rob