Checkpoint 76

Harry Bell cartoon header

Checkpoint 76 (November 1976) is edited and produced by Peter Roberts, 38 Oakland Drive, Dawlish, Devon, UK. This newszine is produced monthly and is available for news, trade, old fanzines (but send a list first), or cash: 5/50p or 12/£1 (UK & Europe), 6/$1 (airmail North America), 4/50p (airmail Australia & NZ). Overseas subscribers, please send cash, International Money Orders, or International Reply Coupons (worth 10p each to me) – no foreign cheques. Cartoon by Harry Bell. Restormel Press Publication: 106.

NOVACON: The sixth Novacon was a pleasant, but unremarkable affair which seems destined to fade comfortably into the general haze of annual Birmingham cons. For some people in fact this haze is already a substantial fog – ace actifan Pete Weston, for example, not only forgot to register but turned up expectantly on Friday at the old Imperial Centre Hotel, scene of the first four Novacons. Thus are the Secret Masters removed from the shackles of everyday time and space.

The 1976 Novacon was actually held at the Royal Angus Hotel, Birmingham, on the weekend of November 5th-7th. Stan Eling was Chairman, with Helen Eling, Rog & Arlene Peyton, and Laurence Miller on the committee. Dave Kyle was the Guest of Honour and attendance was around 300. As usual I didn't attend much of the programme, but there were a couple of films (Westworld and Soylent Green), talks by Dave Kyle, John Brunner (who was being filmed for a forthcoming TV documentary), James White, Tom Shippey, and Jack Cohen, a couple of auctions, a quiz (I avoided embarrassment this year, since contestants were chosen by lottery and not by Rog Peyton saying "Peter, just come into the con hall for a few minutes – I want to ask you a few questions."), a piece on D&D, and Phil Foglio's cartoon slide show, "The Capture".

The disco on Saturday night appeared to be successful, though I only glanced in on my way from the bar to a room party (you've got to get your priorities right, after all). There wasn't a fancy dress parade, but Helen McCarthy and Linda Williams dressed down for the occasion – this was brought to my attention by Ian Williams making growly noises in the middle of my telling him several interesting facts about British seaweeds. He seemed distracted.

Birmingham proved to be as bleak as ever for hungry fans – the place is still a wasteland of closed cafes and greasy eating hovels. The Royal Angus itself wasn't exactly anxious to feed its guests either; for those who were enquiring after my progress, I did eventually get that cheese sandwich – after an hour and a half. However, a few of us shunned the Saturday evening banquet and made off in a fleet of minicabs for an excellent Indian restaurant where we got the first good meal in six years of attending Novacons. We were slightly puzzled, though, by the waiters, all of whom wore funny hats and spent much of their time running straight into some ornamental punch-bags which were hanging from the ceiling. Strange place.

Graham & Pat Charnock held a room party on the Saturday night in celebration of Grah's 30th birthday. It was an enjoyable gathering, enlivened by the presence of a moribund pigeon on the windowsill and by the harmonious tones of The Astral Leauge Male Voice Choir, consisting of Pete Weston, Rob Holdstock, Andrew Stephenson, Malcolm Edwards, myself, and anyone else who could see the words. The Astral Leauge went on to dominate Sunday evening when its founder, Don West (Last Of The Old Ones), initiated new members with the help of a pole: the test consisted of entangling yourself with the pole and emerging again after a series of bizarre movements. I'm glad to say I proved rubbery enough to pass, as did Roy Kettle after he'd removed his stacked heels; Greg Pickersgill discovered he wasn't the correct shape for acrobatics, and Rob Holdstock, of course, broke the damn pole.

It was a good con. Next year's is already under way with Stan Eling as its Chairman and, for the first time, a committee of non-Brummies: Ian Maule, Janice Wiles, Dave Langford, and Martin & Liese Hoare. Supporting membership is £1 from: Martin & Liese Hoare, 5 Aston Close, Pangbourne, Reading, Berks, RG8 7LG. (PJR) (NB: Rob Jackson's Maya won the 1976 Nova Award)

FONTAINEBLEAU SOLD TO LIECHTENSTEIN GROUP: The Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida, scene of the Suncon, the 1977 Worldcon, has been sold to a new corporation with European connexions. The new owners are borrowing $29,500,000 from Euro-Afro-Asiatic Trust (based in Liechtenstein) to pay off debts and to finance the hotel. A foreclosure suit against the hotel has been dropped by the mortgage holders, Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., after a $25,000 payment; however, the Fontainebleau still owes over $10,700,000 to the insurance company and over $1,000,000 in federal taxes.

Whether the Suncon, which has already had to move from Orlando because of the bankruptcy of the Sheraton Towers Hotel, will be affected is unclear. (News from Mary Long)

HEATHROW EASTERCON BID: Last issue we had some notes on the Channelcon (Brighton) bid for the 1978 Eastercon; their opponents are the Skycon who are planning to hold the con in the Heathrow Hotel, near London. The hotel is modern, soundproofed, and contains a sauna, swimming pool, and closed circuit tv, among other things. The con committee consists of Dermot Dobson, Stan Eling, Martin & Liese Hoare, Dave Langford, Keith Oborn, and Kevin Smith. Skycon is taking pre-supporting memberships at 50p. Further information from: Martin & Liese Hoare, 5 Aston Close, Pangbourne, Berks, RG8 7LG.

CoAs: Norbert Spehner, 1085 St.Jean, Longueuil, PQ, J4H 2Z3, Canada.
Rich Coad, 1735 47th Ave, San Francisco, CA.94122, USA.
Simon Agree, PO Box 901, Cotati, CA.94928, USA.
Cheryl Cline & Lynn Kuehl, 724 Mellus St, Martinez, CA.94553, USA.
John Mansfield, 410, 240 Brittany Dr, Ottawa, Ontario, K1K 0R7, Canada.
Eric Mayer, 175 Congress St, Apt 5F, Brooklyn, NY 11291, USA.

THE POLISH EUROCON: (Vernon Brown reports) "After a long and chaotic journey I finally reached Poznan on Tuesday evening. Having arrived so late there was no one to meet me at the station so, after losing myself a couple of times, I caught a taxi (about 10p) to the Hotel Polonez where everyone had to register before being directed to various cheaper hotels. After thirty three hours and hundreds of miles without sleep I was feeling a trifle shattered and having to converse in fractured French and pigeon-English at the Registration desk didn't help any. When I discovered that my room was ready at the Polonez I practically collapsed since I knew that the room would cost about twice as much money as I had on me. But by then I had enough and staggered off to bed.

Wandering downstairs the next morning, feeling a little more human after a couple of hot showers, I met Martin Easterbrook, the only other British fan there. At the reception desk I found that all the con members were to stay at the Polonez with the Polish government paying the difference in price. Part of my hotel bill was also to be paid for me as I had agented for the con. Arrangements had been made for subsidized meals to be taken at a restaurant in Poznan and so, together with a couple of English-speaking fans, we went to the 'W-Z' for lunch. Like the rest of our meals it was typically Polish fare, adequate in quantity and quality, though later we were told that on one day every week no meat is available in Poland and that it was indeed to be rationed. In the afternoon we admired the town, returning to the 'W-Z' for dinner. After a meeting of the European sf committee a number of fans congregated in the hotel bar for a drink or six before retiring. So far a typical continental convention.

After breakfast on Thursday the con was officially opened. I'd thought that the West Europeans (minus Belgians and Britons) took sf seriously, but now I found out that sf was a way of life to the Easterners. Together with the agents/delegates from the other participating countries I was placed at the Top Table on a dias behind the speaker's lectern and we were all formally introduced to the audience while tv and film cameras worked overtime and microphones waved like arthritic cobras. This turned out to be the tone of the whole con: formal and organized. This proved a little awkward for me. Most countries had as agents/delegates a member of their official sf writers' organization; this applied to both East and West Europe – except, of course, for the U.K. where fans prefer to enjoy themselves on the principle that Fandom is a way of life rather than Science Fiction. Thus when the radio and tv people asked me what my place was in the British Sf Scene (ie, was I a writer, a critic, or an artist?), I found it more or less impossible to convince them that I was simply a fan. I think they thought me an idiot who had wandered onto the scene by mistake.

To describe the con in detail would take reams of paper; suffice to say that the programme was standard continental fare. Brian Aldiss, GoH from Britain, gave a speech which was the only item to cause a chuckle – literally. Stanislaw Lem didn't turn up, but the Russian cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov, did. The translation set-up was superb. Films were held in the local cinema and there were art and book exhibitions around the town. As is almost mandatory at continental cons there was a Mayor's Reception for the con members with an enormous buffet meal after the speeches. In similar style was the picnic at the con's conclusion, held in a lodge in a nearby forest. Overall it was an enjoyably different, though expensive, convention and I was sorry to have to leave the day after it finished." (VB) (Incidentally the Quebec fanzine, Requiem, has Eurocon III photos – Vernon must have smiled even less than usual, since he's identified as 'Werner Brown'. Hoo.)

LITTLE-KNOWN ELECTION PROMISES: Dave Rowe sends along a clipping quoting one of Jimmy Carter's obscurer statements: "If I become President, I'll make every piece of information this country has about UFO sightings available to the public and the scientists. I am convinced that UFOs exist because I have seen one." Perhaps now we'll know the real truth about the CIA.

Pamela Boal notes that the Liberal candidate for Abingdon is a keen sf reader and voices a rather far-fetched hope that fandom might gain its first MP. Actually it's already been done, since I remember meeting an MP at the 1970 Scicon – Raymond Fletcher, a well-established Conservative. This reminds me that a fannish Lord has been turning up at One Tun meetings recently, thereby unhappily encouraging Pete Weston's fantasies about the Queen opening the 1979 UK Worldcon (I wouldn't mind, but we've already invited the Archbishop of Canterbury).

PLAYING THE NUMBERS GAME: (Arnie Katz maps our progress) "With the caveat that it is dangerous to analyze too-recent fanhistory, I believe we are currently in the Ninth Transition. By my reckoning, 7th fandom ended with Willis' trip to Chicon III; 7th Transition (unusually lengthened because of the Boondoggle) runs up to NYcon III in 1967; 8th Fandom, with Psychotic/SFR as the focal point runs from NYcon to the St.Louiscon in 1971; 9th Fandom with Focal Point lasted about a year, and since then we've been in the Ninth Transition. I see a new fandom rising – it's been building for about the past year – but no fanzine has emerged as the focal point of active fanzine fandom (the only kind of focal point it's feasible to talk about, given the heterogeneous fandom of today). Maybe soon."

AUSSIES ON THE MOVE: (John Berry reports from the Far West) "There've been various Australian fans through Seattle in the past couple of months. Christine McGowan was here for a few days, and I introduced her to the Puget Sound ferries. Eric Lindsay and Carey Handfield both arrived here in August, and I took them on a ferry ride in the pouring rain. Carey and I later drove my cousin's car across the country from New York to Seattle, and he passed through town yet again on his final way down the coast to California and a waiting jet from Los Angeles to New Zealand. Eric has not yet made his return appearance, but he was staying with Susan Wood in Vancouver this week." (Eric Lindsay's British visit has apparently been delayed till December)

THE LITTLE DICTIONARY OF SF FAN TERMS is a new compilation of fannish words edited by Rob Jackson. It's quite short (eight pages), but gives concise and useful information on the commonest fan terms. It's being distributed through the BSFA and is mainly aimed at newcomers to British fandom; however, Rob has some copies available for 10p or one International Reply Coupon (71 King John Street, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5XR, UK). Meanwhile the new edition of the Neofan's Guide has arrived; the text (by Bob Tucker) is the same as before, but there are new illustrations and cartoons. Both this and the previous edition are available from me at 30p (or 50¢ from Linda Bushyager in America).

SF FIVE YEARLY – 25th ANNISH OUT: Terry Hughes says he's just finished helping Lee Hoffman put out the sixth issue of her regular fanzine, Science Fiction Five Yearly. Copies should be sent out soon.

TAFF ballots should be included in most copies of this Checkpoint (I'm a bit short on numbers). Make sure you vote, huh?

RECENT FANZINES: A brief selection from the current pile.

Fanzine Directory 1 (Steve Beatty, 303 Welch (6), Ames, IA 50010, USA)(35p or 60¢) Steve has attempted to list every current fanzine title, including those from fringe groups; the result is a 54 page directory with an impressive number of entries, putting my own Little Gem Guide To Sf Fanzines to shame. The only trouble is it's not easy to use, even with the help of the publisher's index: too many entries are vague, incomplete, or inaccurate – obviously the result of insufficient or incorrect information – and so you have to have a good knowledge of the fanzine field before attempting to consult the index. Nonetheless it's bound to have its uses and perhaps future issues will be tightened up.

The Fandom Observer 8 (John Figliolini, 8311 Ave K, Brooklyn, NY 11236, USA) (25¢ or usual) This odd little publication must have emerged from comics fandom, judging by its goshwow lowbrow style. It may be intended as a newszine, but the main item is a gallop through American tv bionic operas. Pretty thin stuff, at least in this issue.

Monochrome 23 (Craig Hill, 220 Standish (1), Redwood, CA 94063, USA)(4/$1 or usual) The Fandom Observer is a strange publication, but Monochrome is thoroughly weird. It mostly contains book and record reviews – fair enough, except that none of them are written in English. Many of the individual words are English (others are invented), but they're jumbled together at random; here's an example from a book review: "There are slightly amusing entities which lead his pathway of character development, most of being placed for enough randomvariation toset-off enough humor to make it seem human." Hell, I don't know what it means – it's the first fanzine I've seen written entirely in gibberish.

Epsilon 1 (Rob Hansen, 51 Bryn-y-Nant, Llanedeyrn, Cardiff, CF3 7PA, Wales) (usual) Rob has issued an attractive first fanzine, written and illustrated himself, with a Silicon report as its main item. Good start.

Bar Trek 1 (Mike Dickinson & Lee Montgomerie, 14 Burchett Place, Leeds, LS6 2LN, UK) (usual) Another attractive first issue and one that looks fannish at first sight, but in fact contains mostly sf material: a look at Laser Books, record, film, and book reviews, and various short items; there's also an interview with Ron Bennett which is an unexpected and interesting piece. Another good start.

Timelord 1 (Linda Williams, 45 Durham Rd, Blackhill, Consett, Co.Durham, DH8 8RS, UK) A massive first issue containing three competent Dr Who stories by Linda and a short quiz which utterly defeated me. Linda also sent the first issue of The Friends Of Tom Baker Newsletter which includes an interview with Tom Baker and other Dr Who news and notes. Both fanzines are well-produced and interesting by virtue of their difference; besides I'm always intrigued by cult and fringe stuff and, damn it, I like Dr Who. (Almost forgot – 75p or usual?)

Fanew Sletter 66, 67, 68 (Leigh Edmonds, PO Box 76, Carlton, Vic 3053, Australia) (10/$2A or usual?) (US Agents: Hank & Lesleigh Luttrell, 525 W.Main, Madison, WI 53703, USA. – 35¢ per issue) These are two page newszines, issued fortnightly, with a good coverage of fan and professional news from Australia. Recommended, if you want to get in touch or keep in touch with events in the Land of the Wombat.

DEADLINE for the next issue is December 20th – this is a nod in the direction of organization and efficiency. Meanwhile you're getting this issue as a sample, for news, in trade (................), or on subscription (to no. ...). Probably your last issue if this ( ) contains a cross.

FLASH! (shrieks Terry Hughes) "The 1976 Worldcon was held in Kansas City, Missouri, over the Labor Day weekend. Due to some highly suspicious last minute ballot box stuffing, the Hugo Award for Best Novel went to someone else rather than to Terry Hughes for his highly acclaimed He Would Have If He Had Seen It Coming. Hughes' novel, you may recall, dealt with what the 23rd century would be like it the people of Earth had their right and left nostrils transposed by menacing aliens." © 1976

SUNKEN P'U RISES AT NIGHT! (an awful warning from Darrell Schweitzer) "I've noticed that the compass in the desk drawer beside me sometimes points about 45 degrees to the west rather than due north as it should. It's north now, but at night the needle wanders. How else can this be explained except by the presence of some Nameless Influence in the Pacific which isn't always there?" ©1936

WEIRD TALES: Cheryl Cline and Lynn Kuehl were married on Oct.1st +++ Pandora Birch & Roger Perkins became engaged on Oct.16th +++ I vaguely recall that the Sf Foundation is to make an 'Open Door' tv programme – keep your eyes open, if you're interested. The Brunner Show (with Novacon extracts) is, I think, destined for a forthcoming 'Network' programme. Meanwhile, Mike Ashley is to broadcast on Radio Medway and Vera Johnson has been heard singing the 'Britain in '79 song' on the BBC World Service – without explanation! +++ For his thirtieth birthday, Graham Charnock received four Mars bars, three potato peelers, two pencils, and a cat scarer. He remains cheerful.

CoAs: Greg Pickersgill & Simone Walsh, 32 Woodhurst Rd, Acton, London W3, UK. (temporary only)
Paul Thompson, F9 Plas Gwyn, Merdi Avenue, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2HP, Wales. (term time only)

Kill the fatted beetroot!
Here comes:


Peter Roberts
38 Oakland Dr

Return Requested, If Undeliverable

Printed Matter – Reduced