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Erwin (Filthy Pierre) Strauss, PO Box 3343, Fairfax, VA 22038, USA

Thanks for sending Conrunner 13. in your WAHF section mention of my postcard, you wondered what I meant by "alternative approaches" to cons. A lot of the differences I note have to do with fairly broad issues of what's called "national character," I guess. But a couple of specifics come to mind.

British cons seem more "social," and American more "gregarious," as students of animal behaviour use those terms. Brits go to a con with a fairly specific idea of who they expect to find there, and what their own relation to those people is. Yanks tend to approach cons more as a bazaar, expecting to interact more casually with a wider range of people.

Thus British cons tend to be focused as to emphasis. Traditional, or fanzine, fans have their own circuit, and tend not to be very involved with things like the Eastercon. The media fans have their own cons, which are of little interest to anyone else. Eastercon seems to be becoming a fandom unto itself, as an essentially American-style con. I went to the Prisoner do in Portmeirion on my way back from WorldCon, and it was strictly Prisoner fans; very little even for fans of (say) other British fantasy media. Very few of them had been to WorldCon, and those mainly to promote the Prisoner affair. There was only one event each day (a casual outdoor gathering first thing in the morning) that could be considered outreach to new people, or consideration of the relationship of Prisoner fandom to a wider world. Of course, that's an extreme case; but it epitomises a pattern I see more widely.

At American cons, even those focused on a particular area (like Star Trek, or traditional SF), there tends to be a range of interests represented. in keeping with this pattern, within a British con the activity tends to be focused on one or a very few venues (the fan room, the bar), where all can reaffirm their places in the group, and each make moves to change his or her situation. At an American con, activity is dispersed at the various room parties, and the attendees sample these milieux as a smorgasbord.

The British style certainly affords a more intense experience, and a corresponding opportunity for a deeper satisfaction. I do enjoy getting over there from time to time, but after a couple of weeks, I start to get a distinctly claustrophobic feeling. Overall, I personally prefer the more varied, and casual, American atmosphere.

Another aspect that's struck me is the role of Tech Ops in the whole conrunning culture. While there are some Americans who do nothing at cons but fiddle with mikes and spotlights, and some who won't go near the things, there's a fairly substantial middle group that does some techie-type stuff, but is also involved in other aspects. I myself have run projectors and strung lights, and have also chaired cons -- sometimes at the same time. Over there, I get the impression that the line is quite clear. I guess this starts to get into issues of class, and of the Oxbridge attitude toward "stinks and bangs" people, so maybe I better quit before I get in over my head.

((and in another letter......))

I agree that D. West's pieces in Conrunner 13 and 14 would have benefited from brightening up, either by the author or the editor. The original article tended to run on after each point was well established, while I skipped over most of the close exegesis in his reply, e.g. to how many places the inflation figure should be carried.

On substance, the basic issue is a culture gap. We have two groups of people, each doing things in ways that they find to yield good value for the time and money that they put in. The proximate cause of friction is the Eastercon, which one group raised from a pup only to see the other take over. But with open bidding, such transfers are inevitable from time to time.

That said, however, let me recite a cautionary tale that illustrates the sort of problem D. West might have had in mind when he spoke of excessively "professional" conrunning. New England S.F. Association in Boston is composed of very hard working, ambitious, whose conscientious approach is thoroughly "professional". The membership structure is highly stratified, from General Corresponding members (with no voting privileges), up to Fellows of NESFA (invested each year at a ceremonial banquet). Progress through these levels is largely marked by organising and working on various fannish projects, such as publishing and conventions. This culture is generally referred to as " the NESFA work ethic", and has led to great accomplishments.

It has also led to disaster. Through the seventies and eighties, their annual Boskone convention grew steadily. Each year, NESFAns would ask what new events, or whole tracks of programming might be added; what new constituencies might be served; what greater level of service to the attendees might be achieved. These additions were usually well conceived, well executed and well received. The attendees enthusiastically spoke of how much they looked forward to the same things next year. By this process, the base from which planning for each year began was steadily ratcheted up. Year by year, ever greater demands were placed on the members of NESFA, the gophers, the hotel staff, and the hotel facilities. Attendees were being drawn in who had less and less to do with the core interests of the organisers. For example, word spread through the sizeable college-fraternity community in Boston that the modest membership fee afforded virtually unlimited access to free liquor at open room parties.

In 1987, this culminated in Boskone 24: "the Boskone from Hell". Actually, there were no major incidents, and the statistics weren't that much out of line with trends from prior years. But it was still a hectic enough weekend, what with 4000 on hand, frat boys getting puking drunk, hypersensitive smoke alarms going off throughout the party areas, and groups of (costumed) filkers and gamers plopping down in every corner of the corridors and lobbies. The immediate clincher was that hotel space in the Boston market had become quite short, and the hotel chains decided that they could fill their beds quite nicely, thank you, without putting up with all this grief. But there were also signs of impending burnout among the gopher corps, and within the club itself.

In the aftermath, panic seems to have gripped the NESFA. First, they had to choose a new hotel from those that would have them (all one or two hundred miles from Boston). Then, to avoid alienating the management of the new facilities, they eliminated virtually all publicity, and imposed Draconian restrictions on anything that might be thought a problem area (like parties, and costumes, and gaming). The immediate result was a drop in membership by half, which produced an initial sigh of relief. But membership dropped further the next year. Then a rival convention the same month was started, close in to Boston. Boskone dropped many of its restrictions, and publicity was stepped up. Now Boskone is fighting for its life, with membership last year under 1000 and no turnaround in sight.

This was the result of taking a "professional" approach to con planning. The professional does things just to prove that he or she is skilled and hardworking enough to bring them off; serves various constituencies just "because they are there". in effect, the NESFA "professionals" constituted a civil service run amok, lacking a political superstructure to set policy.

The moral is that a growing convention needs to be concerned with conserving its resources to serve the interests that lie at its core, at a sustainable level. This means more than just drawing up a list of what the key people like. The level of amenities that can be provided depend on economics of scale, and a broader focus than might otherwise be preferred may be necessary. For example, many venues have more small function rooms than are needed by the main programming tracks. A gaming program in such spaces can enhance revenue with little impact on other events. Furthermore, as the post 1987 Boskones indicate, the impact of a given change is hard to predict. Therefore, trial and error over a period of years, making only limited changes at a time, is desirable. For example, rules changes that seemed only prudent in the afterglow of the Boskone from Hell, came across to fandom at large as a design for a convention of old farts; so many people NESFA still wanted to have come, stayed away.

The alternative to this sort of foresight is a catastrophe like Boskone 24, followed by a frantic search for a new identity on short notice. The Eastercon seems about at the point where it needs to start worrying about these sorts of things.

((It's amazing how similar the story of Boskone is to the development of Albacons. Once they reached their pinnacle in 86 the committee started to object to running a con for "outsiders" and attempted to scale it down, all the while contending with an increasingly hostile hotel management. The new identity for Albacons is coming about through a new generation of fans who want to run an Albacon "just like the old ones only better". it will be interesting to see how long before they decide that it's all too much and needs scaling down.))

Peter Pinto, The Paperback Book Shop, 33 North Rd., Lancaster LA1 1NS.

I'm not sure when I received number 14 (I'm still not thinking as well as I used to be able to, since being knocked out, spending some time in a London hospital and three weeks as a zombie after that) but, unless I'm worse than I thought, there's something worth saying re the conrunning debate that no- one's yet pointed out.

While cons are, by and large run on a semi-pro basis (by amateurs for amateurs but employing professionals as seems fit/ appropriate/ necessary/ affordable/ required by law) there is nothing to stop any one or any group setting up to run cons professionally. I personally doubt that the audience is large/ rich enough in this country to pay the wages of the people who would be permanently involved, but I'd have (can have) no objection to anyone trying. I would, however, expect a different standard of convention down to commercial liability for failing to provide the events/ services/ speakers etc. advertised and have different expectations of entertainment rather than the provision of the opportunity to indulge in fanac in a conducive environment. in fact, I'm not sure I'd call a pro event a "con".

As for D. West's stripped-to-the-essentials, bare-bones-provision-for-trufans-to-meet-and-indulge-in-unstructured-trufanac...... are not professionally provided premises already offering this? (usually referred to as "pubs".) Well. OK inns, hotels, street corners and Indian restaurants as well.

D. is right at least about one aspect of security; the job of policeman tends to attract those people who simply enjoy "doing" other people (note security people at Seacon '79, they weren't just into black leather). I'd hate to see any con of any size run without some security under its own control- the natural concerns of con guests, employees, volunteers and members would be left to the tender ministrations of hotel security or outside operators acting on their behalf and possibly more familiar with strike- breaking than aiding the bewildered.

And D. is most definitely right about the cost of congoing (conning?) from mid/ late teens up to end of university (if appropriate) and quite often through the first years of full time employment, even if you get to hear of the existence of such an animal, you can't afford to attend. in fact through the five years I've been running the Paperback Book Shop here in Lancaster, my income has been lower than the supplementary benefit level prevailing before I set up and that's before allowing for lost dental/ opticians/ social concessionary help. I've been able to attend a few cons through the good will (stupidity?) of friends prepared to shopsit for the rate I pay myself plus employing them to run tables in the book room (so I can load most of the costs on to the shop as business expenses, and pay them off over the year). How the hell a student can afford to con-go while there's no all- night film room to unroll a sleeping bag in, I do not know- as for a teenager of for anyone signing on, forget it. If congoing defines fandom then fandom is comfortably middle class, comfortably employed and comfortably protected from the real world except, great monetarist ghu forbid, on the occasion of a hike in the mortgage rate.

Now I'm prepared to admit there's little demand for cons or con facilities for those less well off; but the economic demands of congoing fandom as it now is pretty well dictate this. But given the most "visible" con is the Eastercon, isn't it bizarre that so little importance is commonly paid to the existence- never mind the problems- of the impecunious neofan?

I'm not talking about the cost of drinks as long as friendly people congregate to fan, there'll be a tolerance of a certain amount of financial freeloading (even to one as unlovely and, initially, as isolated and out of it as myself!) but one of the things remarkable about the Albacons was the high proportions of young, poor and friendly fans (and if your own throat felt in need of lubrication, didn't you ask if anyone else was feeling likewise?). Shouldn't we think in advance of less easily met problems?

The first Eastercon I went to, I was astonished that there was no notice board for hitchhikers to contact drivers with spare seats in their cars (getting out of Skycon and onto the main motorway system was a bitch) or for any other similar purpose. Mind you, a lot of things about that con amazed me. But at hardly a con since have I seen any provision of a surface designed to accept the humble thumb tack (I always thought they were drawing pins, but learned otherwise at Seacon). I kidnapped a young neofan from the Adelphi Eastercon and it wasn't until we were nearing the Caribbean restaurant in Preston that I heard in the drivers seat this plaintive voice from the back of the van- "where is Lancaster?" (Andrew was delivered back to his home in Ormskirk only slightly the worse for wear - just white haired from Derek's driving on the return journey). He's since repeated a number of times, but seems to have been renamed "Dave".

At one Yorkon, I think it was Jonathan appeared to be running a service whereby hotel guests could donate their breakfast vouchers to a pool for the poor and hungry - not an idea that would have come easily to me, admittedly, but nevertheless indication that thought had been given and a useful service for the inhabitants of the all night film room. I've not seen that since but hotels don't care who they serve breakfast to really, just that they don't serve too many breakfasts compared to the number of guests.

And then there was always bran burgers. I'm not sure if that fact supports one side or t'other of my argument, but it is in itself an argument both weighty and, well, primeval.

I think I've meandered.

If conrunners cease to enjoy conrunning, they'll cease. If congoers cease to enjoy congoing, they'll cease. While I am most emphatically not an advocate of violence, may I suggest that most if not all will be well so long as, by and large, a happy medium is struck?

And if D.'s volunteering for this job, well "whatever keeps "U" happy?" (or in this case "D."?)

((The problem of poor fans is aggravated by cons being held in luxury hotels, hence the Lucons and Unicons use campus accommodation to keep costs down. The Eastercon (in its present form) couldn't really be held on any campus I know of, but perhaps someone will give it a try one year.))

Andy Morris, 167 Washington Avenue, Grove Hill, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP2 6AT

Having just read Conrunner 14 I was going to write something about the D. West versus The Rest battle in it's pages. However, I had not read the original article in C13 so I retrieved it from the files to do so. What a wonderful marathon of verbal vitriol I found. Such a mind that can crush so mightily and still nit-pick in the entrails.

Unfortunately, I was reading the article in the company of an American colleague who has a degree in politics and is very good at something called semantic logical analysis. This is the process of decoding political speeches to distil the actual content from the surrounding rhetoric dross. My colleague dismantled the C13 article with obvious relish. Her resulting analysis was interesting for the amount of self-contradiction it exposed. Almost everything cancelled out except D. West's acerbic dislike of present day conrunners. The item now read like a verbal tantrum thrown because the toy he started playing with has been changed for another one, and other people are playing with it. it is eloquent, reasoned and well presented; but still no more than a tantrum.

Fandom is composed of those who, in myriad ways, follow and enjoy a literary milieu (media fans included, since even media presentations have to be written down before they assume their final form) that deals with the way things change. SF is very much concerned with the brutal and unforgiving art of prediction. D. West is one of the more vocal adherents. Why then is he so blatantly complaining about the changes that are inevitably occurring in fandom itself? Such hypocrisy is unbecoming in one who so loudly beats the drum.

Personally I am glad that fandom, conventions and conrunning are not the same as they were a few years ago. Fandom would have died out from boredom long before I got the chance to savour it. in the short time that I have been able to enhance my love of SF by attending conventions, no two events have been the same. I doubt that they ever will be. My experience of conrunners is of a determination to do something different (or differently) in each convention. (You being a shining example, Ian.) That attitude certainly is more healthy than D. Wests' winging that things have changed since he started attending conventions.

I know which I prefer.

Pat Brown, 83 Cavendish Rd, Bristol, BS12 5HH

I suppose it was predictable that, having proven himself unable to construct a concise, logical argument, that D.West should reply to his correspondents by descending to flinging personal insults and deliberately defaming people's characters. in doing so he has confirmed my opinion of most of the fanzines and fanzine writers I have had the misfortune to encounter and further reinforced my disinclination to bother reading any fanzine which comes my way. I am almost certainly missing some good material by this attitude, but I really cannot be bothered wading through pages of petty vituperation in order to find it. D.West has some good points to make, but trying to extract them from amidst his irrelevant vitriol is just plain tedious. Would he or Helen McCarthy care to explain to all of us just what relevance their relative heights (and that of Dave Langford for that matter) has to the argument, for example? is Langford's height relevant to the question of whether or not I enjoy reading his books? Does it matter how tall Helen is when what I am interested in is her knowledge of history and medieval costume? For that matter, who wants to know how tall D.West is anyway, except perhaps D.West and his tailor? Perhaps the whole thing is explained by D.West's comments on page I ref. the "2 basic methods one can use to put the boot in on an opponent.." which makes it quite plain that what he is interested in is not uncovering facts or holding a discussion but in scoring points off of people whom he perceives as opponents to be destroyed by any means available. This attitude reminds me strongly of children arguing ("I'm not playing with you any more because you're FAT"), rather than adult discussion. If you are looking for a reason for the decline of fanzine fandom you need look no further than this; that many SF fans feel disinclined to indulge in this type of petty mud-slinging. If fanzine fans really want general fandom to listen to their arguments, they should learn to communicate properly without all the irrelevant @!*%@!!

Wonderfully therapeutic writing vitriol I must admit, although you should have seen the piece I wrote originally for my personal satisfaction!

It occurs to me that perhaps what lies behind the attitudes of some fanzine fans, particularly those of the old guard, is simply a resistance to change. it is hard to see something that you have instigated take off under its own momentum and apparently leave you behind, rather like the teacher who finds his/her pupil starting to outshine him/her. It's not an easy thing to come to terms with, yet in another way it is a great achievement; to start something that grows far beyond what was originally envisaged. Flexibility of mind is something which is greatly valued in SF and whilst it is difficult to achieve perhaps we should all strive for it, along with the tolerance that allows other people to think differently from ourselves without feeling the need to impose our own thought patterns on them. I greatly enjoy tech, conrunners enjoy running cons, fanzine fans enjoy writing/reading fanzines. I choose not to participate in what appears to me to be personal slagging matches but presumably those who do get enjoyment out of it. Who am I to say they shouldn't do it? Equally, I feel that I should be able to expect similar respect from them in return. Fandom should be capable of containing a multitude of such things, and in my opinion the Easter convention should be a reflection of that. There are many more specialised conventions around, and long may they continue to cater for all the myriad interests of their attendees. I choose not to attend Mexicon for example as it is not to my particular taste, but I am delighted that those who enjoy that style of convention have that facility available to them. What I do object to is various minority groups wishing to impose their own style and views onto everyone else. in my opinion the National convention, traditionally held at Easter, should be a meeting place for all the specialised groups and different interests and I become angry when a specialist group tries to force everyone else to conform to their ideals. The fact that I enjoy tech and filking doesn't stop D.West from writing his fanzines, and vice versa, so why does he get so upset when I go off to sing in a room far removed from him? All this argument just isn't necessary and it's about time we all realised that. Fandom is big enough for all of us.

David Bell, Church Farm, North Kelsey, Lincoln, LN7 6EQ.

I have little doubt that if D. West reads this letter it will not change his arrogant, bigoted mind. it might persuade you not to bother wasting you time and money on printing his work. At the most obvious level, D. West accuses us all of being ignorant, virtually illiterate, fools. He then does nothing to make his long-winded, turgid, sophisticated, prose style more readable for those less educated than himself.

In fact, anyone who bothers to compare the other letters of comment with his will find the criticisms he doesn't even mention to be quite interesting. Every time somebody presents a clear, simple, argument against his opinions, or lists provable facts, he makes no reply. He abandons reason and resorts to personal abuse.

If you are trying to prove that D. West is an uncivilised boor, I think you have gone a long way towards succeeding. When I was breaking into fandom, I saw a few short pieces by him which, I must admit, went a long way towards convincing me that he had a justified reputation for intelligent, thoughtful, criticism. it seemed so at variance with the reports that he was inclined to crudely proposition any female he met, that I considered them to be another example of some minor incident being exaggerated out of all recognition.

I cannot help wondering how a Worldcon bid for Glasgow can succeed if there isn't a hotel big enough to squeeze in an Eastercon membership. From what I heard, that was one of the problems at The Hague. Well, perhaps "problem" is too strong a word. it certainly seemed to be a topic of irritated conversation.

And I'm still not convinced by what you said about the approach to winning the bid. After "Conspiracy" and "Confiction" I do think that a lot of American fans are going to be a little cautious about the style of Worldcon which has been produced in Europe. I don't think that it is enough to talk about running an American-style event. You have to be able to show that you know what that is. D. West, despite all the rubbish he spouted, did have a point when he asked why conrunners run cons. If the bid committee can't produce a clear statement of their "Philosophy" (for want of a better word) they risk looking as if they are on the sort of power trip D. West complained about.

The big risk for "Conrunner", whoever runs it, is that it gets too limited in its viewpoint. If it talks about running conventions purely from the viewpoint of con-runners then I think the point is being missed. it needs the customer input. Somehow, the people who attend conventions have to be able to pass on their concerns. They are, if anyone is, the customer. That is one reason why I worry about the lack of opposition for recent Eastercon bids. That is why I felt aggrieved by the way the "Contrivance" bid was devised, and by the erratic distribution of publicity for the changes to "Eastcon".

You can tell that I'm not D. West, can't you.

Helen McCarthy, 147 Francis Road, London E10 6NT.

I'm sorry to have left it so late in commenting on CONRUNNER since Novacon, Real Life appears to have taken up most of my time, in that intrusive way it has.

I couldn't let the next issue go by, however, without offering an apology to poor old D West for hurting his feelings. I didn't realise it was possible to get personal about someone you don't know at all, when all you have to go on is a piece of writing, and so in my ignorance I thought I was just responding to what D had set down, on the same terms on which he had chosen to give his own views. He obviously didn't take it that way, and I'm sorry to hear it. Maybe it's time to get out of the kitchen, Donald?

There's not much point my saying anything further on the subject we were debating, since he doesn't seem to have added anything new to the discussion and two of us repeating ourselves ad infinitum will make very tedious reading.

The rest of the issue deserves more comment that I've time to give it. I can understand why you want to hand CONRUNNER on, but you've made it so consistently interesting and lively that you're a hard act to follow.

D West, 17 Carlisle St., Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD21 4PX.

One point- you may have thought you'd sent them, but I hadn't seen the letters from Pat Brown and Robert Newman before. So will have to reply to them next time. Despite the occasional attack of boredom with the whole subject I suppose this carry over of correspondence is no bad thing - provides a sense of continuous involvement not currently being found in any other places. (Odd thought that - yours is almost the only fanzine currently appearing on a regular schedule).

P.S.

(kill two media fans for Jesus- why be halfhearted?)

((I think I'll have to stop the D West correspondence here: it was fun for a while but it's time to move on. By the way, the story in MATRIX about Conrunner looking for a new editor came from a conversation I had with D West where I expressed an ambition to do something else. As I don't have a convention to run after Speculation I guess I'll have to stick with good old Conrunner unless a challenging convention comes along. A worldcon perhaps...? OK, just joking.))

David Bell, Church Farm, North Kelsey, nr Lincoln

I think you summed up Confiction pretty well. I only managed to have two, rather expensive, nights in Holland, so I can't quite claim it as good value. One or two of the reputed spectacular events didn't turn out anything like as good as I expected. What surprised me a little was that the reports in Locus and SFC have both made the NASFiC seem even more of a mess. I didn't quite think that you could make a pocket programme much more awkward than that for Confiction, but, according to Locus (Nov. 90, p. 43), the NASFiC pocket programme had the list "alphabetically by program title".

Now have a look at the pattern of Worldcons and Worldcon bids through the Eighties. Apart from two or three years after the '79 Worldcon, it is arguable that British fandom has been dominated by Worldcon preparations for around fifteen years. If the Glasgow bid wins, it is possible that time will be extended to twenty years. The one difference is that previously the efforts of British fans to run Worldcons have been centred on London.

Is that why there seem to be so few conventions around London, except for media and other specialist cons which, we might assume, don't involve many of the same people anyway? in effect, just as the Novacon is the regular Birmingham con, the Worldcons have taken the attention of people who might otherwise have run cons around London. I was talking to couple of American fans, and they said that Worldcon bids soaked up a lot of fannish time and effort. Would we be better off forgetting Worldcons and running good British and European cons?

I reckon that you could also have taken any gopher watch and, using British gophers only, assembled an experienced convention committee. it prompts an uneasy feeling that there are really two conrunning fandoms, and I'm not sure which of the two really is more experienced.

Tim Illingworth, 63 Drake Road, Chessington, Surrey, KT9 1LQ

Just a few points arising out of Conrunner 14, in roughly the order they occur rather than importance.

1 Whilst there are, so far as I know, no plans or anything to rescue Speculation or Illumination, Speculation is perceived as being in deep trouble. At Reconnaissance last weekend, I was trying to set up a list of people to help with the Helicon bid, and kept getting the reply "I'm a member, but I'm not going because it costs too much for a con that looks such a mess." You may know that it's OK from the inside. From the outside all we get is meaningless progress reports and no hotel confirmations yet. This is not inspiring. Rumours (probably false) are circulating in place of facts, especially concerning preregistration numbers and hotel confirmations.

This is not to say that Speculation will fail, either in its own terms or absolutely (whatever that means). Just that you have made a mess of your PR and this is affecting confidence.

2. The number of Americans at ConFiction was also low because the firm (Holland Approach) that they picked to do the transatlantic bookings was not used to the market, and wanted high deposits a year in advance and didn't offer any flexibility about hotel choices and length of stay. Something we shall have to bear in mind for 1995 (and for Helicon, though Modern Travel are better than the stories I've heard of Holland Approach).

3. Worldcon bid finances. Atlanta are not using their surplus from 1986 to bid for 1995. They, like us, are finding the sums involved from one main source - the committee's pockets. Details are in their bidzine "Further South on Peachtree". Their advantage over us is a committee of about thirty rather than a dozen, but their subscriptions are lower than our 15/month.

We plan to spend rather less than 30,000 on the bid - that number was the top end of a range that I drew up in mid-1989. it is always difficult to say what is 'spent on the bid' - some things, like publications, are easy, but others are not. I am going to Chicon 5 in September, and will promote the bid - but I intended to go anyway. I went to Tropicon and Smofcon in Florida in December, which I wouldn't without the bid, but I had a holiday as well and promoted things relating to Helicon as well as Glasgow in '95. How much of this is 'money spent on the bid'?

In fact, a lot of what we are doing is promoting British fandom in general in the US, and Speculation has already picked up a number of Americans who would not have considered the idea of attending without us.

4. I'll try to comment on just the bits of letters that are entities in their own right, rather than (however worthy) comments on D's article, as otherwise the whole thing will get recursive,... except to say that D's article would have been better at about a third the length. But then I prefer a good short story to a bad novel-length expansion of the idea.

4.1. David Bell seems to think (I too wonder at the motives...) that the reason why I and others choose to run conventions on Jersey is in order to make them expensive for fans to attend. Wrong! The true reason is in the hotel industry coupled with Jersey property laws. On the mainland, the Hotel de France would be part of a large, maybe multi-national, chain. Instead, it is a family business. This means that, provided the convention, as a whole, brings profit to the hotel, as a whole, we do not have to make each cost centre show a profit that can be justified back to head office. in addition, the hotel is a lot more flexible about what we and they can do - and both sides are willing to learn from experience. They have started offering services that we requested to other groups, and have even installed two doors and a wall following our comments. We're still hinting about a room for 300 people theatre-style, though!

In short, the Hotel de France is the reason for con-running on Jersey, and it's a hotel that business will not allow to exist on the mainland. As D. said, hotels are run by Men in Suits except that on Jersey they're sometimes Men in Tracksuits.

David is also right about the costs involved for con-runners I estimate that running Contrivance cost me about 2,500 excluding going to the actual convention. This is probably more than anyone else on the committee, and is a lot higher than it would have been on the mainland. Bidding a Worldcon, however...

4.2. Joseph Nicholas is well-argued as usual, though from my perspective the history of fandom around 1979 is different. in the mid-70's, general fandom was (considerably) smaller than post-1979, and so most fans did everything as a matter of course. Post-1979, fandom could support more specialised fandoms, and so did. The KTF school of fanzine reviewing did not help fanzine fans either. it was apparently supposed to keep fanzine fandom strong by pouring scorn on weak fanzines. it probably succeeded. However, the weak fanzines that it killed off included most of those who were just starting to write and publish. it certainly made me a conrunner.

4.3. And to D., I return his cry of 'bollocks!'. Publishing fanzines is certainly remarkably cheap (looking at the costs involved in Helicon's Discussion Fanzine), but if he thinks 2,500 insignificant he can donate it a few times to some needy committees. Admittedly, I only spent it because I could (just) afford it, but anyone getting involved in a major convention will spend about 500 per year on it.

See you at Speculation (provided I can find out what's happened to my room booking).


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This page updated on 09 July 1999