Checkpoint 99

D. West cartoon and masthead

CHECKPOINT 99 (August/Sept 1979), the penultimate issue from Peter Roberts, 38 Oakland Dr, Dawlish, Devon, UK. Available if you get it. Subscriber list and cash in hand has been sucked out of my bones by Dave Langford (22 Northumberland Ave, Reading Berks, RG2 7PW) who'll sell you the new ANSIBLE at 4/50p (UK & Europe), 3/$1 (America airmail), or 5/$1 (Australia & NZ airmail) – note that UK postage rates went up again in August. All further news to Dave. Cartoon by Don West. Restormel Press Pub.: 146.


HUGO WINNERS: (thanks to Rob Jackson, since I managed to lose the results):

Best Novel: Dreamsnake (Vonda MacIntyre)
Novella: The Persistence of Vision (John Varley)
Novelette: Hunter's Moon (Poul Anderson)
Short Story: "Cassandra" (C.J. Cherryh)
Editor: Ben Bova
Artist: Vincent Di Fate
Fanzine: Sf Review (Dick Geis)
Fan Writer: Bob Shaw
Fan Artist: Bill Rotsler
Drama: Superman

Gandalf: Ursula LeGuin. First Fandom: Raymond Z Gallun. JWC: S. Donaldson

SEACON GLIMPSES: (I'll generously allow ANSIBLE to carry the definitive report – what follows here is just an amalgamation of unselected incidents) It started to dawn on me that Seacon 79 was going to be a bloody big convention when I arrived early on Wednesday afternoon and found the Metropole already crowded. Behind the scenes, however, the programme halls were still empty – all clacking footsteps and echoes. Though there was a frenzy of activity in the fan room, putting up displays and the like, the place still looked forbiddingly vacant and austere.

Still, it was only Wednesday: time to meet a few people – John Millard with camera (he's thinking of producing a photo-book): Ted White, tickled pink with his new job at Heavy Metal: Rich Coad, back over here at last: Mike Glicksohn, soon to be seen in his Demis Roussos caftan (he didn't sing, thank God): Gil Gaier, still smiling: assorted Flemish fans, idolising Rob Holdstock: and – well – a whole bunch of buddies, acquaintances, new faces and total strangers, all of whom are going to hit me since I'm never going to be able to drop all their names in the next couple of pages, even if I had that good a memory. The evening ended up with a quiet brag game – Norman Shorrock and I wandered downstairs at about 5:30 am and appeared to be the last still up. More fools us, but the con had seemed to start well.

Up fairly early on Thursday for a cooked breakfast – my hands were already shaking so much that I spilled the coffee. Convention well under way, therefore. Fan room full of activity, chatter, clink of glasses, and ring of tills – already felt good in there, so more power to Eve Harvey and her aides. The opening ceremony in the afternoon eventually started, despite the professional bandsmen losing themselves all over Brighton. Dramatic beginning, but I fled to the bar when the pipers started on Tulips from Amsterdam. First complaints from Jerry Pournelle, so everything apparently normal. Had a look in the Huckster's Room – vast, on two levels, all full. Hucksters smiling – next time I'll find some stuff to sell too. Fan room and other parties in the evening – all seemed to be going ok.

Fan programme began Friday. Sound system had blown and I'd completely underestimated the number of people casually using the room whilst the main programme was in full swing. So it goes. The American Fandom panel (Frank Denton, Suzle Tompkins, Rich Coad, & Joyce Scrivner) started amidst surrounding hubbub – things looked grim when well-meaning but long-winded Aubrey MacDermott seized the mike for a detailed history of US fandom in 1929. Panel survived, however. I chaired an interview with TAFF & GUFF winners, Terry Hughes & John Foyster, and then moved on to the first of the British Fandom chat shows (with Ken Bulmer, Bob Tucker, and Ken Slater), retaining the chair myself since I'm useless at delegating things: plenty of anecdotes, good stuff – but I bizarrely had to abandon the chair just before the end to move downstairs for the Call My Bluff quiz. The hall was packed and thanks to the excellent audience response everyone managed to conjure up some wit. Gratified that my false definitions of ludicrous sf terms fooled the opposition. Fan team (Roy Kettle, Malcolm Edwards, and myself) beat off the pros (Bob Shaw, Chris Priest, & Rob Holdstock). Having been on the programme for three straight hours, I left Eve Harvey & Mike Glicksohn to interview Harry Bell, Fan GoH, and collapsed into a nearby bar.

Out to a Spanish meal with a bunch of fans. Kev Smith demonstrated how accountants can eat more than was ever thought possible. Serenaded by strange guitarist; many olives eaten. Back to the Seacon band and disco, ready to bop. Danced myself silly and was maliciously chosen, along with Terry "Mr Saturday Night" Hughes, to judge a jiving contest – admired precision stufff by Rog Peyton & Helen Eling as well as an exuberant Flemish couple. Few Americans around – seemed to be the one aspect of British conventions that didn't find favour (must live lives of sheltered eardrums). Plenty of parties later on and I was still going strong at 3.30 am when the night staff closed everything down. I seemed to be the only committee member around – lots of complaints, so I nervously investigated. "Residents kicking up a fuss," apparently. But I thought there weren't any residents? Completely unsure of my ground, but fortunately John Steward roused the sleeping Pete Weston who came downstairs – a Chairman in his wrath – banged a few tables, wagged a few fingers, and sorted everything out. Fine stuff. End of harassment & no trouble thereafter. We went off to reassure remaining fans and found the last remnants of the big sixth floor party in their secret redoubt – the ladies powder room. Excellent place – very plush and cosy, with Joseph Nicholas traditionally asleep in a corner.

Saturday – chaired the fan writing panel (Terry Hughes, Kevin Smith, & Dave Langford) and took a break listening to the fan artists before chairing the second British chat show (Eric Bentcliffe, Bob Shaw, & Terry Carr) – more good anecdotes and odd items. The discussion on producing fanzines seems a bit futile amidst the fan room bustle (there'll have to be a separate room for the fan programme – next time, and that's a phrase I kept hearing), but a couple of newcomers are asking around and so a small discussion actually starts. Enter the BBC (and Arthur C Clarke – coincidence?) to film the discussion. Sudden crush of potential tv stars. Neos frightened off. Some fantasy fan hogs the camera; I try to stutter something incoherent as a tv camera strokes my face, lights burn out my eyes, microphone booms tangle in my hair, and something is shoved between my legs (is that the BBC or someone seizing an obscure opportunity?).

There's the fancy dress in the evening – I missed the beginning by chatting to Dave Piper (his first convention and he claims he's not been out of the fan room yet), but took a a look later on. Drew & Cathy Saunders as the Tarot King & Queen are excellent and there's some other items of note – certainly better than your average Eastercon costumes. Mind you, there's always Brian Burgess prancing around. Parties later, but I'm easily befuddled and don't remember where. I did get paid 1¢ to attend the Minneapolis in 73 bidding party – that might have been Saturday.

Anyway, Sunday came along and the con seemed to have become a way of life; my hands were becoming steadier, so my system was adjusting and all must have been going well. However, the idea of Sunday morning fan panels no longer seemed all that attractive, so I checked with the panellists and rescheduled the programme to start with the final chat show (Harry Bell, Darroll Pardoe, Joesph Nicholas, and – you guessed – me chairing) at one o'clock; bright audience and receptive to the crop of fannish anecdotes and arguments. After that the fanzine auction – there weren't many but good grief they didn't half fetch high prices: up to £8 for TAFF reports and Innuendos and a quid or two for Foulers and True Rats. North American & British fans even kept up with some lunatic Swedish bidding. I started worrying about woodlice eating away at my faniznes stored away in Dawlish.

After that there was supposed to be a 1965 Loncon slideshow, but despite the aid of over half a dozen willing investigators the damn projector wouldn't work. This failure of equipment had been bedevilling the main programme, but I thought we might escape. I tried to postpone the slides till the Monday, but the projector remained broken (that's why, incidentally, the closing ceremony didn't repeat the slides of past worldcon logos). I think there's an equipment hire firm that may be hearing from the convention – after all, we didn't do things on the cheap and we certainly deserved better.

Immediately after the fiddling around in the gloom show I bounced out onto the beach for the England v. Australia Grand Seacon Cricket Match. Captains Pete Weston and John Foyster were already on the field (carefully constructed of pebbles), as were the teams – though separating the latter from the audience was none too easy. The opposition seemed to have a lot of South Africans, Americans, and Canadians for an Australian team, but no matter. I actually got a chance to bowl and get someone out – more than I ever did at school. We would've beaten the Australians, of course, had it not been for some unorthodox play (Joyce Scrivner thundering down the beach for a wild baseball pitch – the resulting six only stopped by Mike Glicksohn's rugby tackle of the batsman. Is this cricket?).

Banquet in the evening. I got more to eat than usual, even though the head waiter told me there'd be delays since there were "45 others like you" in the hall. I thought of asking them all to stand up in a blaze of orange suits – would've been some sight. Afterwards I tagged along to the Hugo awards – nothing particularly exciting in the results, despite patchy cheering for Don West. Superman in person was obliged to acknowledge the popular roar that greeted the nomination of Hitchhiker's Guide, while SFR's unloved fanzine Hugo was presented with such ill-grace (and no one would accept it anyway) that if I was Geis I wouldn't touch it with a barge-pole.

There were parties again in the evening – Pete Weston got to see his favourite belly-dancer once more – and I finally ended up on the early morning beach with a half dozen or so all-night fans.

From the beach to breakfast, where an allegedly ex-partisan waiter yelled Viva Zapata! at me when I ordered eggs. Curious.

Anyway, what with one thing or another the fan programme disintegrated on Monday morning. No one seemed hugely interested in the final panel and when I found the amplifier still connected to the music system rather than the mike, I called it a day. No one seemed upset, so I suppose all was still going well. Certainly the fan room was as packed as ever – the bar had been drunk effectively dry several times (and there were at least five others in the Metropole – all open) and the games machines had taken vast sums of money, as had the sales desk (with its mounds of fanzines, t-shirts, buttons, and balloons). As a centre for meeting, chatting, sitting, or just wandering around it had proved entirely successful.

Monday evening we all fell foul of the licensing laws – a British tradition – and the bars closed early; but by that time most people had already found some sustenance and there were still a few parties to go to (including Joni Stopa's where I was presented with some interesting seeds – gardening fandom does ok for itself too).

And that was just about that. By Tuesday afternoon most people seemed to have disappeared (including me), though doubtless there were a few very dead dog parties that night. The Metropole's usual clientele reappeared, including an elderly Arab in full desert gear who asked for a Scotch at the bar and then said – no, no, a bottle, idly tossing a £20 note over for a few coins change. That seemed to mark the end of the Seacon.

UNICON 80: Another British convention, this one is scheduled for July 4th-7th 1980. I certainly hope to be there since the venue is none other than the University of Keele – a former address for CHECKPOINT as ancient subscribers may recall. Accommodation is at the university, on campus (£7 b&b), and registration is £4.50 to: Unicon 80, PO Box 92, Derby, DR1 1AP. Further details in ANSIBLE, I trust (nice to give all this work to Dave, eh?).

FAN POLL – BEST COVER: Credit for the artwork on WRINKLED SHREW's poll-winning cover should go to Pauline Jones, says Pat. Graham only did the limerick, despite his vast artistic expertise (squandered on Hawaiian guitars & foam rubber totems). Ok.

TAFF AUCTIONS & THINGS FOR SALE: TAFF gathered in a few bob at Seacon. £28.14 from the book auction: £46.75 from the fanzine auction (thanks to Ron Bennett, Roy Kettle, Joyce Scrivner, and others (for donations); £9.00 from the auction off Arthur Cruttenden's signed t-shirt (thanks, boss); £5.50 from the auction of fan artwork (thanks to Harry Bell & Rob Hansen); and £33.00 from the auction off the Seacon 79 banner (thanks to Kevin & Sue Williams). Thanks too to Joseph Nicholas, Michael Poland, and everyone else who helped with the auctioning (& buying) of these items. TAFF loves you.

Meanwhile, a number of items have arrived for which I'm your friendly local agent. There's OF SUCH ARE LEGENDS MADE Vol 1, a neatly produced 56 page compilation of fan history, myth, & legend. Contributors include: Mike Glicksohn, Harry Warner Jnr, Ginjer Buchanan, Stu Shiffman, Randy Bathurst, and more than a dozen others; edited by Joyce Scrivner, proceeds to TAFF, and available from me at 70p, inc post), and THE MOFFATT HOUSE ABROAD, Len & June Moffatt's TAFF trip report to the 1973 Eastercon in Bristol (available from me at £1.10, inc post).

MYSTERY OF THE MISSING FANZINES: I thought when I cleared up my room at the Seacon that the piles of fanzines had mysteriously shrunk and indeed they had. The reasons for this are obscure; but I have two theories (which are mine): Theory A) – a conspiracy hatched by evial fans to enter my room and select, randomly so as to avoid suspicion, certain fanzines and thence make off with them. This is a pretty silly theory. Theory B) – the chambermaid threw some of my fanzines away; this also seems pretty silly, but it's the best I can offer. Anyway, if you gave me a fanzine that's not listed below I'm afraid it's disappeared, and could I have another copy. A friend for life.

WOOF
LETTERS FROM LENG
DOT
FANDHOME

SUMERMORN
ANOTHER BLOODY FANZINE
STOMACH-PUMP
A FINE MESS

MOTA (2)
EGEO SEXTARIUS
CHUNDER (2)
TSAR 0

ONLY FIVE PAGES because I've run out of stencils. Maybe Someone is trying to tell me something...

CoA: mine, actually – not that I've moved, but since I've become marooned here I might as well come clean and use this address (18 Westwood, Cofton, Starcross, Nr Exeter, Devon): the Dawlish one is still ok. Phone is Starcross 553, by the way.