A report on the first Swedish SF convention by Lars Helander originally published as LUND ME YOUR EARS in TRIODE #8 (Autumn 1956, ed. Terry Jeeves & Eric Bentcliffe)
Early on a chilly, grey and miserable morning in August the train arrived at the railway station in Lund. Drowsy, and heavy eyed I climbed down out of the sleeping car. I managed to discover the exit, and having found my way out of the station building stumbled straight into two sleepy looking characters carrying something which looked like a warning road sign. But, instead of the black vertical line you would expect to see on such a sign, there was a black vertical spaceship. I recognised it at once from the convention program booklet I had received some days earlier; it was the famous LUNCON sign.
The two guys turned out to be the two leading fans behind the Lund club UTOPIA, Borge Larsson and Kjell Pettersson, the latter being the editor of the club's fanzine UT and an old correspondent of mine. They had come to the station at this unearthly hour to meet arriving fans, and.. they told me that several other fen were expected to arrive on my train. So, we waited for them and found that among them was Roland Adlerberth, who writes s-f and science reviews for HAPNA, Sweden's only promag. He's a very nice guy and I had met him previously in Eskilstuna. Finally, all who were supposed to arrive at this time had done so and gathered around the Luncon sign. As the con wouldn't start until 3p.m. we had nothing to do, so we decided to take a walk through the town up to the Physical Institution to look at the mathematical brain "Smil" (Smile) and other interesting things. Lund is an old university town with lots of famous places and learned institutions. However, I had brought two bags filled with foreign s-f mags and fmz for the con exhibition so Kjell and I went to the Lunds Hemgard, where the con was to take place, to arrange the exhibition and left the others to wake up the scientists at the Institute. Later on they came back alive. Some other fen had arrived the previous day, but they had gone to the nearby town of Malmo to do some sightseeing.
Lunds Hemgard seemed to be an ideal place for a con, A Hemgard is something especially Swedish which is hard to describe, but it has about the same functions as a London club - you can go there to play games, read, chat, and so on. Now, however, the whole Lunds Hemgard was reserved.
On our way to the Hemgard, Kjell told me that some time ago some members of the con-committee had written to Kruschev, inviting a Russian scientist to the con - they did it merely for kicks, of course, and did not expect any reply. But, one day they got a phone call from the Russian Embassy in Stockholm. However, as the guy at the embassy spoke neither Swedish nor English (intelligibly) nobody understood much. Nothing happened though, no Russian scientist came to the con, even though the committee members had offered to pay for his plane ticket and expenses. On the other hand, no angry diplomatic notes were sent from Moscow! The LUNCON is unique in that it is probably the only s-f con to be entered in the files of the Soviet Government.
Finally, we managed to finish the exhibition arrangements, and whilst Kjell went to make some further preparations I sat in his study writing labels for the s-f on show. After a while Alvar Appeltoft, a very active fan from Halmstadt arrived at Kjell's place. At first I thought he was Kjell's kid brother (forgive me Alvar!) or something, but he couldn't have been because his dialect (at first I thought it was German) differed greatly from the Lund dialect - which is also cryptic; sounds like Danish. Alvar had brought his whole collection of Swedish fanzines and we looked at these and chatted until Kjell came back to fetch a pile of books he wanted to include in the exhibition. Staggering under an enormous load of books and mags Alvar and I were shoved away to the Hemgard with Kjell close behind with whip, and Borge Larsson.
At two o'clock everything seemed to be ready and in order. Lots of people had already arrived; among them were K.G. Kindberg, the editor of HAPNA, my old pals Carlolof Elsner, HAPNA's film reviewer, and Torsten Malmqvis, together with representatives from the various s-f clubs. There are ten more or less active groups in Sweden now. The total con attendance was around forty.
By three o'clock everybody had gathered round the enormously long conference table, and Kjell welcomed us to the first Scandinavian s-f convention and expressed hopes that we would all enjoy ourselves. Then the time for me to speak came, about my travels on the Continent and in Israel, and about the s-f and fandom situation in the countries I had visited. After I had finished and everyone had woken up, Mr. Kindberg reported on anti-gravity experiments in the U.S.A. in a very interesting lecture which was keenly discussed afterwards.
Then there was a break while we partook of a little refreshment and chatted, looked at the exhibition. Quite a few newspaper men were there, interviewing us, taking photos and, simultaneously displaying their ignorance of the media. The Luncon actually received quite an unexpected amount of publicity both in the local and national papers, and on the radio. The TV service didn't seem to give a damn, though. Well, you can't have everything.
During the break, the Malmo fans from the METEOR and CHAOS clubs had arrived. Denis Lindbohm, "The Aurarc", who's the boss behind Club METEOR and their mag CLIXSEV, and also a filthy pro' (one of the few really fannish fen in this country) arrived disguised in a BEMish mask, through the eyes of which he kept blowing cigarette smoke. Club METEOR produces amateur s-f films both in color and black and white, and the mask was to be used in one of these.
The METEORs had brought some of their films and a projector, and after the break we had a showing of several of their productions. Everybody liked the films a lot - they were amazingly well photographed with death-rays, spaceships, monsters, saucers, and even an atomic explosion. One of the films was downright crazy, and we laughed like mad.
The main purpose of this con, however, was to create a Swedish s-f union. This had been discussed for quite some time in the fmz, and we all considered such a necessity for Sverifandom. After having seen the films and listened to a short radio programme on the LUNCON (the speaker was a Club Chaos member and the programme had been taped at his visit to the Swedish Radio Service in Stockholm a few days previously), we started the union discussions. After a couple of hours debate we finally agreed upon a resolution which was written down and signed by all present. Some of the purpose of this union is to establish a more intimate contact between Swedish fans, by means of a special fandom column in HAPNA, to prepare for the eventual participation of Swedish fandom at the '57 Worldcon in London, and to prepare and arrange at least one Swedish con per year.
Then we discussed a lot of other things: the next con, the quality of HAPNA, what fanzines should look like and if you should pay for them. This latter provoked some interesting comment; of the ten Swedish fmz now being published there are only two that are really fannish, and these are also the only fmz distributed free of charge. When I brought up the question of the difference between Swedish and Anglo-American fmz, many fans, even fannish ones, said they considered your kind of fanzines to contain a lot of "rubbish"....whatever they may mean by that. But, it should be borne in mind that most Sverifen are still on the 'that-has-nothing-to-do-with-science-fiction' stadium. And the kind of fannishness that does exist here is rather different from yours, as we have no real fannish background. Our fannishness is more crazy-like, if you see what I mean.
Now the time had come to break up, and together with the METEOR and CHAOS members, Torsten Malmqvist and I took the train to the closely situated city of Malmo (there were no hotel rooms left in Lund) and we hit the hay at once. Denis had put his mask on for the arrival at Malmo station and succeeded in scaring several old ladies, two ticket-collectors and one drunk out of their wits. Torsten I shared a room at the hotel, and we both found that we weren't able to sleep so I started writing a conrep I had promised the editor of SSFF whilst he raved about some girls in the background. Then we went out for a nocturnal stroll, and at four o'clock in the morning we were hunting a black cat which had happened to cross our path, through the deserted streets of Malmo. When a suspicious policeman, who apparently had heard our wild hunting cries, approached, we started a highly intellectual discussion on some s-f books in a nearby bookstore window. He left bemused after a short while but, meanwhile, the moggie had disappeared so we went back to the hotel.
On the following morning we got up an hour too late and had to hurry like mad to get to the station in time for the train to Lund - this days con programme was scheduled to start at eleven o'clock. On top of everything else we lost our way, and the only person who seemed to know the correct way to Central Station was an American tourist!
We hadn't eaten anything that morning so, when we arrived in Lund after a twenty-minute ride we had some coffee and sandwiches before going to the Hemgard. We arrived there just as thr programme started, and settled down in a corner to listen to the first item on the days schedule - an interesting causerie on flying-saucers, of UFOs "as you call them if you take them seriously", as one of the local papers expressed it in a Luncon article. Then Dr. Arne Lindqvist from the Genetical Institute spoke about mutants and the like and showed some pretty horrible slides of human beings who, through mutation, had developed deformed bodies, only short stumps for arms and legs, or pencil like fingers etc. Ugh. He also expressed the thought-provoking idea that by selective mutation it might be possible to breed a special kind of human being for life and survival on other planets. After this lecture, Lt. Bjorn Nyberg from the Air Force spoke about boom-time s-f and about the current American s-f situation. Incidentally, Bjorn has written a continuation of the Conan series soon to be published in the U.S.A.
By now, everybody was getting a bit hungry, and to our relief it was soon time for dinner. And for more discussion. We chatted, took snaps, and read the latest issue of the fannish fmz CHAOS, which was distributed at the con by the CHAOS club members. This day, two of the members of the METEOR club were dressed in BEM masks, and carrying a silver-coloured spaceship, one meter high. One of the BEM's took some 'official' photos.
After the auction, which followed the break, a long letter-article which had been sent to the con-committee by Danish pro-author Niels Nielsen (who, unfortunately good not get to the con) was read to us. Cato Lindberg, the Norwegian fan who puts out FANTASI was also unable to attend due to being on his National Service chore. Cato is a nice chap and we missed him quite a lot. Some of the opinions expressed in Mr. Nielsen's letter were contradictory to those Bjorn had expressed in his lecture, so a most vivid discussion ensued.
At six o'clock we had some coffee and cakes, and at seven we were supposed to see the film "On The Threshold Of Space" at the Skandia theatre. But quite a number of fans, including myself, had seen it before so, we stayed at the Hemgard. As somebody unexpectedly had noticed that I had a bundle of EC Horror Comics in my briefcase (Denis had borrowed them and returned them to me at the con), we spent the whole evening mentally absorbing the fascinatingly nauseating tales in these horrible mags. Roland Adlerberth, who ought to know better as he is a Head Librarian and a literary critic, seemed shockingly interested in these publications - it was quite impossible to get a word from him all evening. The only thing he kept saying was "I do pity those who take these seriously". Hah! Not until noon the following day did we bid farewell to Lund (I had stayed overnight, together with Torsten at Kjell's place). Kjell accompanied us to the station, and on the way pointed out to a confused newspaper editor that we had formed a s-f union and not, as he had written in his paper, a UN union. His facial expression when he was told of his error gave us cause for several chuckles on the way home.
LUNCON had been a very political convention it seemed; we get phone calls from Russian Embassies and we form UN unions.
Viva la Luncon!!!