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In The Beginning

Conception was held in Leeds to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first ever convention in 1937. In the course of the con I had the privilege of meeting two of the men who attended that event. One had been contacted by Conception and invited along, the other had heard about the convention on Radio Leeds and phoned in to find out where it was. I cannot begin to describe my feelings on talking to these two gentlemen. Somewhere between awe and envy. I just hope I'll be there at the centenary convention! As CONRUNNER's tribute to the anniversary, here is a copy of what must be the first ever conrep, published in the fanzine "NOVAE TERRAE" in February 1937, a copy of which was brought along to Conception and this part photocopied. I hope that Maurice K Hanson does not mind the infringement of his copyright.

 

Conferring in Leeds

Maurice K Hanson

Little of importance could be said about the business transacted at the first British Science Fiction Conference held in Leeds on January 3rd this year that has not already been admirably epitomized in the booklet compiled by the Leeds branch of the newly formed Science Fiction Association. Most readers will know of Prof. Low's motto and message, Daniel McPhail's encouraging words, John Russell Fearn's opinion that science fiction is better in 1936 than in 1930 and that he enjoys writing science fiction, especially stories as "Mathematica", Festus Pragnell's comprehensive message and H G Well's succinct remarks.

Walter Gilling's account of the apparently unequal struggle he has seen for science ficion in this country, Ted Carnell's account of the struggles of fandom in the US... Arthur Clarke's remarks on the finances of inerplanetary societies in general and the London branch of the British Interplanetary Society in particular, the writer's remarks on the Nuneaton group and NOVAE TERRAE, and in the afternoon Leslie Johnson's most detailed account of the development of the British Interplanetary Society, and Eric Russell's pleasant if provocative distinction between fan and reader... all these will probably be familiar to the reader.

The decisions embarked on with respect to the Science Fiction Association appeared elsewhere in this issue though tribute should be paid to Mr Mayer's indefatigable manner of proposal in the numerous factors dealt with.

There were, of course, numerous matters of minor importance: the not innapropriate notice festooning the walls of the Theosophical Hall wherein the Conference was held --- "There is no religion higher than Truth", the coming to light of such facts as remaindered science fiction magazines are shipped here as waste paper and that the British Interplanetary Society held its first meeting on a Friday 13th, the hour or so devoted to the art of the raconteur after the conference proper, the sombre aspect of Leeds at 6a.m. on a Sunday morning--- but these are, after all, of small import.

It would be hard to close, however, without reference to the achievement of the Leeds group in the establihment of their permanent headquarters which must be a scintifictional landmark of the country and without being grateful for their organisation of the conference and their hospitality etc. etc. etc. etc.

Little has changed in fifty years, has it? This report was followed by the first publication of the constitution of the organisation innaugurated at the convention: it was to be called the British Science Fiction Association. Now we know who to blame....


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This page updated on 09 July 1999