THE SUPERMANCONFrom AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY, number 45, May 1954. No author attribution.
Post-war British national science fiction conventions have all been held in London - a natural enough choice for many reasons. On the whole, they have proved entertaining and memorable occasions, attracting science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts from all over Britain, the Continent, and the United States. But the feeling grew among provincial fans that the locale should be changed once in a while, and at the 1953 convention-The Coroncon-it was proposed by members of the Nor'west Science Fantasy Club that the next session should be held in Manchester. At the time this call for a change evoked a very mixed response, but increasing popular support for the idea prompted the club to form a committee to draft preliminary arrangements for a Northern convention to be held in 1954.
The club had already gained experience in organising a convention. Towards the end of 1952 a one-day get-together, dubbed the Mancon, had attracted some 85 provincial fans to the Waterloo Hotel, the club's meeting place. A suitable site for the second Manchester convention, lovingly referred to as the Supermancon, was found after a short search-the Grosvenor Hotel. Centrally situated, adjacent to two main railway stations, this hotel provides ideal accommodation. There is a roomy hall for the main sessions, with an annexe in which displays by fan groups, publishers and dealers will be arranged. Most important of all, to some fans, there is a bar in the annexe! The convention will be held at the traditional time - Whitsun week-end, June 5th and 6th inclusive.
It will be quite an international gathering - we hope to see fans from the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Greece, Malta and North Africa. Fandom will be represented in strength - the Supermancon Society already includes the following fan personalities among its members - Walt Willis (editor of Slant and Hyphen), Tony Thorne of the Medway Science and Fantasy Club, A. Vincent Clarke (fan-of-all-work), John D. Roles (editor Space Diversions), Pete Campbell (editor Andromeda), Michael Rosenblum (collector), Fred Robinson (editor of Camber), Walter H. Gillings (who has been styled Mr. Science Fiction of Great Britain), Dag Siggerud of Norway, Jan Jansen (editor of Alpha the Belgian fanmag), and fan artists Ken Mclntyre and Jack Wilson. One disappointment is that the Arch-Fan Ken Slater, Chief Operator of Operation Fantast, will not be able to join the meeting. Among the authors we hope to see are Bryan Berry, E. C. Tubb, Sydney Bounds, Bertram Chandler, E. R. James, Eric Frank Russell, John Christopher, John Russell Fearn and William F. Temple.
Most of the programme has been planned and detail work is under way. Among the highlights is a mock trial of H. J. Campbell for crimes alleged to have been committed against provincial fandom - Pete Campbell will appear for the prosecution, Ted Tubb for the defence, in a court presided over by Judge Walt Willis, with a jury (handpicked!) of prominent fen. The prisoner is at present on bail editing Authentic Science Fiction...
John Gunn, who is a member of the Magic Circle, will demonstrate the power of telepathy and perhaps introduce us to the Demolished Fan.
There will be a session "The Editor Speaks . . ." in which Bert Campbell (Authentic), Alistair Paterson (Vargo Statten Mag), Ted Carnell (New Worlds and Science-Fantasy), Peter Hamilton (Nebula), Nic Oosterban (Planeet), and Jock Curle (Grayson and Grayson), will tell of future plans.
The fans will get their chance later, when a panel of fan-editors will be given the opportunity of saying a few home truths about rival fanzines.
Still on the lighter side, there will be a sketch involving a TV Lie Detector, a play by Walt Willis, a diatribe against science fiction by old-time fan Eric S. Needham, an "Ask me another" session, a Bran Tub (sixpence a dip, but value for money!), and a variety of games and competitions.
On the more serious side will be interludes to enable representatives of the various fan groups to say a few words about local activities, and visitors from overseas to join in. A research chemist will be describing how atomic energy is utilised and has promised to give a practical demonstration of the controlled release of atomic energy. (All attendees are recommended to bring lead-lined waistcoats for this session!)
Items which are still being arranged include talks by various authors, and the showing of films.
The convention will, of course, officially close with an auction. All the books in the N.S.F. Club Library dated before 1952 will be put up for sale, and they are mainly American magazines and include scarce first issues. The Committee has received several donations of books for the auction, but further gifts would be welcomed by Frank Simpson, the convention auctioneer, at 21 Greenway, Alkrington, Middleton, Lancs.
If you want to attend the Supermancon, join the Supermancon Society without delay by sending 2s. 6d. (50 cents) to Brian H. Varley, the convention treasurer, at the Balmoral Hotel, 33 Princes Square, London, W.2. This will ensure that you receive all Bulletins, giving details of arrangements, as well as a free Souvenir Programme, which will take the form of a large, quarto booklet in which fan editors show off their wares, old fans reminisce, and younger fans plan for the future! The fee for attending is 6s. per day; members of the Supermancon Society, however, pay only 3s. 6d. for the Saturday session.