This is SKYRACK No 17, dated 25th April 1960 and hurriedly published by Ron Bennett, 7 Southway, Arthurs Avenue, HARROGATE, Yorkshire ,England. 6d per copy, 6 issues for 2/6d.Subscriptions in USA @ 35cents for 6 issues (6 issues airmailed for 65 cents) to Bob Pavlat, 6001 43rd Avenue, Hyattsville, Maryland. News of interest to sf fandom gratefully received. If plans work out correctly, the cartoon on the left should be by Arthur (Atom) Thomson.
THE 1960 NATIONAL CONVENTION which was held in London from Good Friday, 15th April to Easter Monday, 18th April will take its place in fannish history as a gathering of surprises. Already nicknamed by some as “The Quiet-Con” this convention was a fight against the odds from start to finish, and in so far as the convention was held and an enjoyable time was had by all, it may be safely assumed that fandom won through.
THE FIRST SURPRISE was the shattering announcement by the management of the Sandringham Hotel, the advertised meeting place, cancelling the convention on Tuesday, 12th April. Ella Parker and Bobbie Gray who were in. charge of booking arrangements were told that the management would not after all allow alcohol on the premises and that frankly we were considered a bunch of rowdies. A state of emergency existed as Ella contacted the local Chamber of Commerce and thence the Kingsley Hotel, Bloomsbury Way, Holborn.As the standard of the Kingsley is automatically taken to be higher than the majority of the hotels in the district in which the Sandringham is situated, it may be that we were done a favour. BSFA members and those non-members who had made bookings at the Sandringham were hurriedly contacted where possible and word was left with a friendly spy at the Sandringham to direct any would-be con goers to the Kingsley.
THE GATHERING CONVENED on the Friday evening in the convention hall which was reached by trailing through the hotel restaurant. Doctor Arthur R. Weir, who retired from the Secretaryship of the BSFA because of ill-health, chided those present who had helped themselves to large quantities of hotel notepaper and introduced Guest of Honour, E.J.Carnell, the Editor of the Nova magazines. Ted, in turn, introduced TAFF Delegate, Don Ford, who said that he was indebted to TAFF, that he was not really a "convention fan” and that he deplored the labelling of fans. Don continued by saying that it was a good ploy on the part of the con comittee to change hotels when they knew he was in town. He mentioned meeting two of Britain’s leading teddy boys, Ted Carnell and Ted Tubb and went on to speak of his part in American fandom, mentioning that he has the names of 6000 fans arranged geographically. Whenever Doc Barrett travels the States he looks up names listed. Don went on to talk about the formation of the First Fandom organisation and concluded by presenting Ted Carnell with a bellybutton brush “For the man who has everything.”
FOLLOWING SATURDAY’S AUCTION by Ken Slater, Ted Carnell took the platform to speak on the present position of SF and the writer’s part in this situation. First, however, he called the attention of the gathering to the doors at the back of the hall, and announced “Dave Kyle.” And Dave walked in! Amid gasps and applause he walked to the front of the hall and said that he was pleased to be in London once again but that he had already made a speech. “I’ve said everything I have to say, and no-one applauded.” Having drawn blank looks from the audience, he added, “At the Sandringham.”
SCIENCE FICTION AS A NAME IS BECOMING LESS KNOWN, said Carnell, adding that he felt Astounding’s change of title to be a bad move, ASF having been a household word for over 25 years. Ted said that he was looking for new writers, a 2nd string to be groomed for stardom in two or three years time. This discussion sidetracked to whether fact has caught up with SF prophecy and questions and discussion from the floor in the shape of Dave Kyle, Arthur Thomson and Ted Tubb followed. Kyle said that similar points had been raised in Detroit and at a recent Los Angeles meeting.
AFTER TEA THE THREE TAFF CANDIDATES WERE PUT ON SHOW. Eric Jones of Cheltenham’s St.Fantony Group moderated a quotations quiz set by Doc Weir. This developed into questions set the candidates by the floor on such topics as “Should fanzines accept anonymous contributions?” and “What does each candidate think is the most outstanding achievement of the other candidates in fandom?”
MEALS AT THE HOTEL were somewhat highly priced and at mealtimes most fans could be found at the Moulin Rouge Restaurant on Holborn, practically opposite the restaurant where the original forerunner of the London Circle would meet and. people like Bill Temple and Arthur Clarke would discuss SF. The blonde Irish waitress at the Moulin Rouge was run off her feet and was invited to the evening parties by several fans. She declined..
DON FORD had made up a slide show and this was presented on the Saturday evening. Don’s coverage of subject was extensive, ranging from Ken Bulmer’s 1955 TAFF trip to local and previously unknown fans. In addition, Don included shots of Cincinnati by day and by night, the latter prizewinning shots being especially appreciated by the audience.
FOLLOWING A FANCY DRESS PARTY at which Ina Shorrock and Ethel Lindsay won first prizes, Don Ford was presented with an orange box by Norman Shorrock on behalf of the Liverpool Group. Don said that being a completist he would now have to try to collect orange boxes from all over the world.
ON THE SUNDAY MORNING Keith Freeman demonstrated to anyone interested that his Brandy For Breakfast slogan is more than an empty one.
AT THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE BRITISH SF ASSOCIATION, the legal position re. the Sandringham cancellation was discussed. It transpired that the BSFA has no written record of the transaction but that there is enough evidence to constitute a verbal contract which lays down that neither party could have cancelled the booking within a week of the convention. Accordingly, it was agreed that a solicitor’s letter should be sent to the management of the Sandringham, explaining the position.
A SCHEME introducing postal ballots was discussed and the meeting moved on to the election of new officers for the coming year. Mike Moorcock, ex-editor of the Tarzan Adventures comic magazine, and friend Gerry Mosdell (who had produced the Convention programme booklet) put forward their manifesto towards producing the BSFA’s official organ, Vector, and Jim Groves, a member of the Science Fiction Club of London, did the same. On the ballot taken, Jim Groves narrowly defeated his rival duo and immediately announced that he was inaugurating a newsletter scheme for members, the first newsletter being scheduled for within a fortnight.
ELLA A. PARKER, editor of Orion, was elected as BSFA Secretary, and after appreciation had been expressed for the magnificent job done by Treasurer Archie Mercer, an appreciation echoed even by a non-member present, Archie was voted into office for the third year in succession. He stated that while he was honoured, he wished to make it clear that this would be his last year as Treasurer.
THE ELECTION OF BSFA CHAIRMAN caused some little discussion. Eric Jones and Arthur Thomson both declined nomination and finally Ina Shorrock beat Doc Weir on a straight vote. Ina is the wife of Liverpool’s Norman, a wonderful mother of three wonderful children, a marvellous cook and a hostess par excellence. The moment the BSFA introduces a weekly meeting at the Shorrock household, I’ll be the first to join.
BRIAN ALDISS, who received a plaque from the Detention Committee as Best New Writer of the Year, narrowly defeated veteran H. Ken Bulmer in the ballot for Association President.
FILMS SHOWN at the Convention were fan films covering recent conventions and taken by Ted Carnell and Dave Kyle, and the profilm of the early fifties, “The Day The Earth Stood Still” which was chided by hardbitten SF fans for its gimmicks, but was highly rated by a nonfan hotel resident who was invited to the showing.
KETTERING was suggested as next year’s convention site, and fans wishing to express an opinion on this choice are asked to write to Ella Parker, l5l Canterbury Road, West Kilburn, London NW 6.
DURING THE ENTIRE WEEKEND discussion had run free on who was to be the victim for the “This is Your (Fan) Life” session to be held on the Sunday afternoon. Those “In the know” were told that this was Terry Jeeves, who, visiting relatives of his new fiancee, was to be lured back to the hotel on a pretext. They were further told to spread the word around that said victim was Ted Carnell. When the time came round, Norman Shorrock was lured on to the platform to look at a “faulty” microphone, finding to his surprise that he was the victim! Arranged by Eric Bentcliffe with the help of Liverpool and Cheltenham fans, this exaggerated beautifully Norman’s part in fandom.
THE TAFF AUCTION RAISED £l5 *** OMPA held a meeting and a party *** Don Ford held a party, demonstrating remarkable convention technique in palming guests on to Dave Kyle when the management complained at the noise. *** For three hours hardies played hide and seek with the hotel management -- shades of the SuperManCon