for the first science fiction convention to be held in the north of England
since 1954. Your collective enthusiasm has overwhelmed use for in taking
this annual meeting away from the south we estimated an attendance of 50 -
60 and now find ourselves catering for twice that number! Let us hope that
you are not cramped and that every one of you enjoys the weekend thoroughly
for it just did not seem fair to clamp down on numbers and turn away keen
and bubbling applicants.
Much can be written about Harrogate itself, what a beautiful inland
spa town it is, about its history, its waters, and so forth, but this is
not necessary. We have obtained colourful brochures for every convention
member and we are experimenting by giving programme time to allowing you
the opportunity to look round the town and see for yourselves.... do you
wish to try your hand at miniature golf? To buy antiques? To take the
waters? You'll have the chance. The brochure will help you to map out
any route around the town and perhaps you'll use your convention pencil
There are several good restaurants in town but we have obtained
full inclusive terms for all attendees residing at either the West Park
or the Clarendon and arrangements can be made for any non—resident to take
meals along with the bulk of the convention membership.
We have tried to select an entertaining and balanced programme of
events, covering the amateur as well as the professional sides of the
field. The actual programme will of course be adhered to as strictly as
possible and we hope that both speakers,(contestants included!) and
audience members will take their places promptly; timing is especially
difficult this year because of the programme "spread" between the two
hotels. Any time changes, etc., will be announced on the convention
notice board, and you are invited to make use of this board for any
notices of club meetings, etc., that you might wish to arrange.
As the "man on the spot," perhaps in more senses than one, I would
like to take this opportunity of thanking all those hard workers who have
made the convention the tremendous success we are sure it will be, and
especial thanks are due to Norman Shorrock who has once again produced a
first rate convention booklet at a moment's notice. Enjoy yourselves and
our efforts will have been worth while.
Welcome, then, to Harrogate! Welcome Tom Boardman, our Guest of
Honour, welcome Ron Ellik, our TAFF Delegate from Los Angeles, welcome
our Continental delegates, welcome the professionals, welcome the amateurs,
yes, welcome YOU!
-- Ron Bennett.
Some years back, there used to be a little secondhand bookshop in
St. Ebbes, Oxford. It's gone now - they've got a couple of main roads
and a flyover there instead - but I used to look in there regularly
back in the early fifties.
It was there I found what was only the second clothbound science
fiction novel I ever bought. It was in perfect condition (which even
at that time was more than could be said for me) and it cost only a
shilling. Its title was "What Mad Universe", its author was Fredric
Brown, and its publisher was T.V. Boardman & Co. Ltd.
Tom Boardman was the first publisher to publish sf regularly as
sf. He and Grayson and Grayson were in the field pitching before the
boom of '53-'55 began. Grayson and Grayson always sound rather a
phantom pair of gentlemen, twins, perpetually young old men dressed
in grey; I have never discovered if they actually exist. There is no
doubt that Tom Boardman actually exists, and to prove it, he has
consented to be our Guest of Honour at this convention.
That's a really splendid idea, for Tom is still in there pitching.
Only this year we have seen a new venture from him if not from his
publishing firm; he is editing the Mayflower Sci-Fi series, kicking
off in fine style with Eric Frank Russell, Kurt Vonnegut, and Fred
Pohl. Not only are the titles good, the series is the first in this
country to carry non-representational covers, and three cheers for that,
say I. We're all intelligent enough to buy a paperback because it is
labelled Sci-Fi and not because it shows a picture of a robot bent on
forcible matrimony with a toothsome teenager.
You'll also know that the Boardman byline appears regularly in
"Books and Bookman", a monthly journal always most hospitable to sf.
Somehow I often catch myself tiptoeing past the articles on Angus Wilson
and Iris Murdoch to find what Tom Boardman has to say about - well,
about the twenty-fifth reissue of a van Vogt under a now title, or
whatever it happens to be. Name me another newspaper or magazine in
the country that keeps its readers so regularly and so well informed
about the current sf (okay, okay, I meant except for the "Oxford Mail").
I would be falling down badly on this pleasant job of introduction
if I did not add that Tom is best known for his series of detective
thrillers, the Boardman Bloodhounds. They include the writing of many
of this generation's brightest thriller writers, among them Fredric
Brown and John Boland. And into his general list Tom has managed to
sneak quite a few titles that arc sf without anyone but the educated
being aware of it. You may recall a nice shaggy fantasy called "The
Village That Wandered" and a scarifying H—bomber saga called "Two Hours
to Doom" — the latter being available now as a paperback, and worth
a dollar of anyone's money.
Among the sf titles proper issued under the Boardman imprint are
"Caves of Steel", "Currents of Space", "Project Jupiter", "This Island
Earth", and my favourite, Leigh Brackett's "Sword of Rhiannon" — oh yes,
and some of the famed. Lensman series and just a spot of Conan. Ted
Carnell's two anthologies, "No Place Like Earth" and "Best From New
Worlds" both appeared as Boardman paperbacks long before the paperback
It will be fun to have Tom Boardman among us for this con. Although
I don't know him as well as I would like, he always seems the most
convivial and genial of men, even when knee deep in rejectable—looking
manuscripts. Tom is an American who has lived in this country (with a
few necessary breaks) since he was six weeks old. How many British
babies could say the same? Yet he is refreshingly unanglicised. His
forcefulness, his good humour, his robust outlook, all strike me as
essentially transatlantic qualities. I would say more, were it not
that he is at present considering a novel of mine, and I don't want to
seem too flowery. Tom is married, and his wife and two children, aged
seven and eight, will be in Harrogate with him.
This will be Tom's first convention since the London World Con in
1957. It is great to have him with us making whoopee again. Publishers
of science fiction are few and far between. Tom Boardmans are even
-- Brian Aldiss.