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NICON '86 Remembered

by Thomas Ferguson & Eugene Doherty

((I received a lot of correspondence last from two students at Queens University in Belfast who were planning Northern Island's first convention. The following is an amalgam of letters they sent individually after it was all over.))

Having received CONRUNNERS 1-4, and with said help organised NICON 86, we thought we'd drop you a line. Upon reading them we found them interesting. Note, not useful, merely interesting. Stands back amazed. Shock criticism? Not really, it's just that there is very little in the zine with any direct relevence to the smaller cons (100-150).

With regard to these cons, including NICON, the main aim is to get people aware that there is an SF con in their town. I think our claim to have been the first Northern Ireland con is quite justified, except that (and here Eugene blames me, just as I blame him for everything else) not many people in N I realised it was happening. Media interest was very limited (very!).

The Union fined us for making a mess (disputed), and when in September we went to confirm our pro-tem booking of the main hall, we found that the union president had pre-empted us and got it for a political rally. Yes, very annoying! I'll just say that, as a result, our main hall was like the fanroom at Albacon III.

We were not without our little upsets such as losing speakers, running late, poor media coverage etc. but I think we will profit from our mistakes and everyone who attended seemed to enjoy the day. We are also determined to get NICON '87 on the convention map so we have already started tentative planning for it. It will be in late October, cost 6 with Katherine Kurtz, Robert Anton Wilson, Jim Fitzpatrick as GsoH. Enquiries to Thomas Ferguson at 60 Melrose St, Belfast 9, N.I.

((Eugene and Thomas kindly sent me a copy of their 2 Progress Reports (well, one flyer and one PR) and the NICON '86 Programme Book. For a 3 attending membership one day convention they have provided a lot of good material. GoH was Anne McCaffrey with Peter Morwood and Jim White also in attendence. I believe that Albacon II was Thomas's first con, and Eugene was blooded at XIIcon, so it is gratifying to see that they managed to give a very good overview of fandom in the Programme Book, highlighting the social aspects of conventions (apart from drinking) with the advice to "let your hair down, talk to people and basically just get involved in whatever is happening". They also featured fanzine fandom and the existence of "the convention circuit". The programme had Main and Fanroom streams (although I don't know how well they ran.) The Main stream had an Introductory Speech, a talk on Astronomy, Peter Morwood on Fantasy, Book Reviews, a quiz, GoH Speech followed by questions and answers, Dinner at the Ritz (bring your dinner and find out!), a debate: SF vs Fantasy, Peter Greenaway's "A Zed and Two Noughts" folllowed by the closing bit. Young Frankenstein was shown late on the Friday night as a warm-up and there was a business meeting on the Sunday planned "to discuss the success of the convention". The Fanroom offered an introduction to fandom, a plug for the university SF society, a signing session, fanzines explained, and rolegaming. The programme was planned to run from 10am to 10pm. All I can say is that I wish I had been there - it would have been nice to be caught up in the obvious enthusiasm of this dynamic duo. However, time, Conspiracy, travel and poverty had a powerful pull towards staying at home. Maybe this year.......))


This page updated on 09 July 1999