Getting Started in Fandom, 1975

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Inspired by Patrick Nielson Hayden's posting in rec.arts.sf.fandom in early 1995 on what got him into fandom, I did the same.

In the summer of '73, I worked at lunch counter in a Zayre (later Ames) in Worcester, Massachusetts. The book racks were right beside the counter, so I'd often grab a book to scan at lunch. One of the first books I read that summer was Stephen Whitfield's The World of Star Trek. The Whitfield book made me go back and watch Trek reruns, and the Trek reruns made me start reading SF. I loved what I read, and absorbed over a hundred SF books the first year. The idea of fandom was fascinating to me, but few people at my very mundane high school were interested in SF or fantasy.

As my parents worked at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, I'd often go hang out at the library. I found people reading science fiction there, started talking to them about it, and they told me about the college club. I went to my first WPISFS meeting in October 1974. One of the kids I met there was Rich Holmes, who later went on to invent the Dead People Server Web site about 20 years later.

The meetings were fun, the college folks were interesting, and they told me they ran a little con and they drove together to Boston to attend a con every year. While I'd heard about the big Star Trek conventions in New York City, the idea of attending a local science fiction convention was much more appealing.

The first con I attended, Technicon, was held in late January 1975. Fans from the Boston area (Tony & Sue Lewis, Drew Whyte and Bonnie Dalzell) came out and spoke about trends in science fiction. Fred Pohl was the official guest, and about 40 people attended his talk. I'd just read The Space Merchants, so getting to talk to its author in person was great!

Boskone was in March that year. We piled into a little rotten car and took the turnpike out to Boston. On the way, a little silver Corvette sped by us, just missing hitting our rear bumper. The license plate was California and read SF PRO. For the rest of the trip, we debated who from California could have had a car like that and a license plate like that. Based on what little we knew, we figured it was either Harlan Ellison or David Gerrold. As Ellison was my favorite writer at the time, I was thrilled by the prospect of seeing him at my first big convention.

The Meet-the-VIPs party was held around the indoor pool. There was the GoH, Anne McCaffery! There were Lester & Judy Lynn del Rey! There were Larry& Fuzzy Pink Niven! I met fans from all over the northeast that night, falling into a conversation with Karen Klinck from Buffalo near the pool. We found David Gerrold, and helped prevent him from being thrown into a pool by a raging WAC (and, yes, it had been his car we'd seen earlier in the day).

Four women of the club shared an "Economy Single" At $21 a night, it was all we could afford, but it was roughly the size of a large closet. As I came in last each night, I got the spot on the floor in front of the bathroom door.

I loved wandering the con, going to the dealer room and the art show and those parties. I even got involved in my first hoax bid at that Boskone---Trantorcon in 23,309, a hoax bid run by Larry Niven. If you have its progress report, you'll see my typoed name on the list of pre-supporters (my handwriting was illegible even then). I went to most of the program, and disagreed with Lester at one point. I wound up sitting next to Fred Lerner for a couple of items, and enjoyed talking to a fellow Vermont native.

Conventions were fun. I wanted more! So I spent the next six months hanging out with the local club members, playing my very first computer games, graduating from high school and getting ready to move to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon University.

I also joined NESFA. I drove to suburban Boston for a meeting just a week before I moved. It was at Don and Jill Eastlake's impressive house in Newton. I was introduced to APAs and immeadiately joined APA:NESFA (an APA I later served as the collator of for three years). I asked if there were fans in Pittsburgh to look up, and everyone replied they thought that fandom had died in Pittsburgh.

Within days of moving to Pittsburgh, I got mail from two different people telling me about another fan who lived in the same dorm that I did. Ironically, I had already met Alyson Abramowitz at a school newspaper meeting. It turns out there was a club in Pittsburgh (WPSFA). The local con, PghLANGE, was only a few weeks later. So during my first month at college, I met Ira Kaplowitz, Barbara Geraud (Knutson), Marc Glasser, Linda Bushyager and Gary Farber. Oh, and this quiet, black-haired fan named Jim Mann.

Fan Photos from 1975

This first photo is my costume for Boskone 12 (1975). It was an attempt at a humorous take on the albatross from "The Wreck of the Hespris" (which really wasn't all that funny):

Laurie Trask (Mann) - in Costume at Boskone 1975

Anonycon 1975 was my 4th con (after Technicon, Boskone and PghLANGE).

The first two photos have Bob Asprin and Gordy Dickson (or Gordy Dickson and Bob Asprin). I think Gordy was Anonycon's GoH that year.

Bob Asprin and Gordy Dickson at Anonycon 1975

Gordy Dickson and Bob Asprin at Anonycon 1975

The Dorsai were a new group and were very much in evidence at Anonycon. Here are Dalroy Ward, a Dorsai whose name I don't remember (but whom Dave Stein says is Gregg "Zilch" Haggland, Toronto area fan), and Mike Jones:

Dalroy Ward, Gregg Zilch Haggland and Mike Jones at Anonycon 1975

Linda Michaels and Jay Kay Klein with Neil Belsky in the background:

Linda Michaels and Jay Kay Klein with Neil Belsky in the background at Anonycon 1975