Posts Tagged old fandom
So at long last, I’m going to sit here and talk about my overall feelings about Renovation, my first impression of WorldCon, and some general thoughts on the state of SF conventions as a whole.
But before I do that I’m going to talk about the phat lewt I got at the con.
The Philip K Dick, Philip Jose Farmer, and Elizabeth Bear books were a lucky grab from somebody who just yelled FREE HARDCOVERS near the free stuff table, and also make it so I had to check my luggage. Completely worth it though.
Hounded, as it turns out, isn’t actually a very good book; the author spends the entire first chapter on an infodump, which instantly turned me off. I prefer implicit narration to explicit narration when it comes to fantasy, and I do not want you to just tell me how awesome your ten thousand year old druid is. Indeed, I’d have been more drawn in if the character’s age were never stated, just implied to be really, really old. I haven’t started reading the steampunk book yet.
The Song of Ice and Fire buttons in the upper right corner I found randomly on Sunday; they were originally handed out at the ASOIAF fan club meeting. I have… way too many of them, so I’m going to be giving them away as soon as I have the free time to actually arrange mailing them out.
Finally, the towel everything is resting on is the only souvenir I bought at the con, and well worth every penny. I mean. Look at that towel, guys. I will never leave home without it again.
Alright, now onto the meat of this post: my feelings about WorldCon in general.
Overall? Yes, it was an interesting and excellent con. It has a very long history, and I had some excellent networking opportunities. The panels were, for the most part, interesting and engaging, and the parties provided wonderful ways to socialize. The Hugo Awards were fantastic to see and one of the highlights of the event.
But. And there are a lot of “buts.” Keep in mind when reading this that I approach this con not as an old-school SF fan but as someone who met fandom first through anime and second through media fandom and videogames. I am an outsider, I am a new-generation fan used to an entirely different convention scene. But I still think that my opinions and observations are entirely valid, and I’ll enumerate them here. Also: I still have two more SF cons to go to before I feel I’ll be able to safely say I have an idea of the spread of different types of SF cons, so my opinions may change from that as well.
First of all, the way I was hyped up for Worldcon did not live up to what I actually experienced. Everyone talked about it being the largest SF con, several oldfen warned me that I would be totally overwhelmed by all there was to do, reinforced by the program booklet and otherwise. Old stories of Worldcon talked about young starry-eyed fen’s lives being changed by this event, of them being lost and confused and ultimately welcomed into the fold as they rubbed shoulders with the greats.
The experience I had at the con itself was nothing like this.
First of all, Worldcon is not a large con at all. I was continually struck on the convention floor by how empty the place seemed, by how the convention occupied a space about five times larger than it needed to be in. Worldcon is 4000 people; I believe you could have fit 20,000 in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center (do NOT quote me on that, I don’t actually know the full capacity of the space, and I also don’t think you could do that comfortably… I just think you could do it), which in turn made me wonder why the hell the con committee had seen fit to rent such an egregiously oversized space. How much money was wasted on a convention center of that size? I saw many panel and meeting rooms go almost entirely unused at certain parts of the con, which again felt like a terrible waste of time, money, and resources.
Second, it was absolutely not worth the price in any way shape or form. Renovation’s tickets were around $200 at the door; for around a quarter of that price I could go to the Penny Arcade Expo and get a far, far better experience. “Yes,” you say, “But this is WORLDCON, not PAX! It’s DIFFERENT!!!” But what I’m saying is that the cost is prohibitive and I didn’t feel as though I was given my money’s worth at all. This event was not worth $200. Given that Worldcon moves around every year and is constantly in different locations, I could maybe see justifying $150 at-door, but as it stands the cost is absurd. You can argue the point all you like, but cost is absolutely a restrictive gateway for attendees, and doesn’t provide a particularly good return on the investment unless you are a pro. As a casual fan? This is not a con I would ever recommend.
Which in turn brings me to the social scene and a problem both myself and my friend Kevin encountered, in that we both felt terribly alienated here. It wasn’t quite as bad as my first Otakon (nothing will be that bad) but I still felt a genuine sense of displacement and, in some cases, like I wasn’t even wanted. In my case, if I mentioned my work on this blog, I would catch the interest of a few older fen, but this felt like they were only interested because they were flattered, and because they found they idea of a young fan researching fandom history almost exotic (the number of times I heard “but you’re so young!”…)
While I did make a few interesting connections at parties, these were largely with other younger fans who felt the same way — alienated and sometimes even ostracized by the larger fandom. In some ways, Worldcon felt like an old country club, full of people with their own rituals who had no interest in outsiders. I sometimes heard conversations where in the same breath as someone complaining about the “greying” of fandom they’d then complain about how the young people just didn’t get it, and were all too caught up in their animes and mangas to care about real fandom. Kevin elaborates on the feeling and his point on his own blog a bit better than I’m doing here.
SF fandom has fallen behind other fandoms. Where once Worldcon really was a giant of the con scene, the be all and end all, now it’s barely a footnote in comparison to other cons. You can go on and on about how the traveling nature makes it so much more expensive, about how the history makes it worth it, but that doesn’t change the fact that the young people aren’t coming to the con anymore, that we feel alienated and sometimes even ostracized, that the discussion isn’t as vibrant or interesting as it used to be. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I need to keep going to Worldcon for my research, I wouldn’t go to Chicon next year.
This isn’t okay. For a culture to survive, it needs new blood, and Worldcon should find a way to make itself more inviting and palatable to people of my generation. Everywhere, people complain about the greying of fandom, but nothing is really done about this, nothing concrete anyway, and I get the feeling that nobody wants to do anything about it.
Now, on the flip side? It’s not like I didn’t have fun. I did. I got a lot of research done, I had some fascinating conversations, and yeah, I got to see the Hugos. I just don’t think that experience was worth the time, effort, and expense of the trip. Like I said, I’ll be doing Chicon next year, and in another two years I might do Worldcon if Orlando wins the bid (long story as to why), but that’s all the way in 2015, so who knows what I’ll be doing or feeling then.
And maybe it was just this particular con. After all, each Worldcon is very, very different from the rest, given the way they move around and are chaired by different people. Perhaps Chicon will be different, more welcoming, and more accessible. Who knows?
To conclude… to me, Worldcon feels like a fallen giant. I can see how back in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and even the early 90s it might have been a giant of fandom, the mainstay of the geek scene and the heart of all conventions, but now it feels like a fallen monarch, ousted from its glory by a combination of bigger, better, friendlier cons. I still think it’s worth going at least once, just to say you did, but it will not be a mainstay of my con stable.
(Also again, I’m sorry if this comes off as excessively bitter: I really did have a great time and really did get a lot of research done! The people who I did interact with were great. But I still had a lot of problems with the con I felt I needed to get off my chest.)
Sunday, August 21 began with a combination of the usual con-haze of “I’ve just spent two days straight running, writing, and talking” combined with a new feeling of “wow, I drank a lot last night.”
My first panel was for me probably the most important panel of the con — First Fandom: Awards, and a Look Back at the Very First Worldcons. The panelists were all attendees of the very first Worldcon, true ancients of the fandom world: David Kyle (who I’ve mentioned several times), Art Widner, and Erle Korshak (the chairman of the second Worldcon, Chicon 1). The panel began with information about each of the panelists, starting with Erle, who apparently chaired the second Worldcon by accident. He talked about hitchiking through Philly to get to the first Worldcon, since he was sixteen years old and it was the Depression. There was some talk about other methods of getting to Worldcon, and a lot of note about how many fans would help other fans out of kindness and a desire to see them.
And then… Erle mentioned the Exclusion Act. There was an audible sigh from David, though he was kind enough to explain it to the audience, there was still this clear “not THIS again.” It’s really kind of a shame that the thing David Kyle is remembered most for is accidentally causing his friends to be banned from the first Worldcon.
This segued into a lot of talk on all parts about how they were all young and stupid back then — something which I think holds true of many modern fandoms. We’re all young and stupid. There was also a lot of talk about how divided fandom was — many states had at most one fan, but they stayed connected to the larger world through letters and magazines.
The most interesting thing that came out of the panel was when Erle mentioned that the ticket cost of Worldcon in 1940 was $1 — so, where did the money come from to run it? It came from advertising revenue and from exhibitors in the form of pulp publishers. I was thrilled to hear this: earlier, I’d countered someone’s observation that I was awfully young to be at a Worldcon with a retort that perhaps more people my age would arrive if the admission price wasn’t so ridiculous, which was in turn countered with “Well, Worldcon is all volunteer run, and unlike those big cons like the anime cons and comic book cons, we didn’t sell out to advertisers.” But according to Erle, Worldcon had “sold out” in the 40s! It’s all well and good to be noble, but if you’re going to complain about falling attendance numbers and a lack of representation by the under 30 crowd, then don’t act high and mighty about the fact that you don’t use outside sources of revenue. This in turn has led me to wonder — when did Worldcon get this hipster-esque “But we don’t use filthy advertisers or sponsors or corporate exhibitors!” come from? When did that start?
The other anecdotes are a bit of a blurr — Art shared a story about staying on a rich Southern plantation while hitchiking to another convention and having the best meal he’d ever had, while it came out that David Kyle won the first ever costume contest with his 1940 Ming the Merciless.
Due to a scheduling problem, the panel ended a bit early, so I wandered into another panel, namely the end of The Changing Short Fiction Market, with panelists Lou Anders, Neil Clarke, Stephen H. Segal, Rick Wilber, and Sheila Williams. I was only in the tail end of this panel, so mostly what I got out of it was that short fiction is more accessible to a younger audience, and that we’re seeing a renaissance of the novella thanks to e-publishing and the internet. Originally, novellas were difficult to publish due to paper costs, but favored by authors for giving a little more freedom than a short story but less commitment than a novel. The internet solves this problem because paper costs are a non-issue.
I didn’t get to stay in this panel long since, as I said, I was only catching the tail end. After that it was onto the Chicon 7 panel, with panelists Jane Frank, Dave McCarty, Helen Montgomery, Peggy Rae Sapienza, John Scalzi, and Steven H. Silver. This was a panel about the next Worldcon in 2012 (obviously), and the panelists answered questions about their approach to the con. All in all it sounded like a really good time — they asked the crowd to give suggestions for panels, then mentioned that some panels would be simulcast to Dragoncon (so attendees at both cons could see them) which seemed pretty cool. I highly suggest going to the Chicon website and giving suggestions (and I’ll see you guys there!)
The last panel of the day was Issues in RolePlaying Game Design, with panelists Jennifer Brozek, Colin Fisk, Steve Jackson (yes, THAT Steve Jackson), Tom Lehmann, and Allison Lonsdale. Unfortunately my notes on this panel indicate that my exhaustion had finally caught up with me, as they read: “late. Not giong to say much, i’ts a really interesting panel but I’m very tired?” There was discussion on GM-less gaming, but I’ll get to THAT in a minute!
After that it was time for the Closing Ceremony, which… to be frank, was completely boring. It was mostly a speech, followed by a symbolic passing of the torch to the Chicon committee. The highlight was when the con chair, Patty Wells, realized that she hadn’t ever officially opened Renovation, and so she declared the con open… then immediately closed. This followed on the heels of the Chicon staff accidentally saying that their con would run from August 30 to September 30 (instead of August 30 to September 3), and thus a joke that the world’s shortest Worldcon would be followed by the longest.
While at the closing ceremony, I met up with a guy named Mike with whom I had a great conversation about medieval weaponry, and also my friend Joy Crelin. After that, we headed out to the Dead Dog party, where we hung out, ate snacks, and generally decompressed from the convention. Later, Mike left, and Kevin once again joined us.
The last highlight of the con began with a man walking about asking loudly if anyone wanted to play an RPG with him; I spoke up and said sure, why not. The man’s name was Jason Wodicka, and the game was called Microscope.
THIS GAME IS AWESOME. All caps and italics awesome. Seriously. This is one of the aforementioned wave of GM-less games, in this case a collaborative storytelling game that is also diceless. We ended up with a story about a great 21st century war against dragons which ended with a renegade AI killing all dragons and almost all of humanity.
Halfway through the game though I stepped out to finally meet Christopher Garcia about being Emerson students, fandom, and writing. I also gave him a hug, and then I got to hold his Hugo. We had a great conversation that ended up all over the map, and in the middle of it a lady gave me an LED on a piece of velcro (it came from her costume…? Random?) which I promptly stuck in my hair (it now lives in my hat). I then went back to playing Microscope.
Alas, we all had early flights the next day, so it was time to trade contact information and head off to bed.
UP NEXT: My swag pile, and a reflection post.
And we’re back. The hurricane was quite lame, though I’m coming up on a hurricane of a different sort — the start of the semester. Things are heating up around here!
But this isn’t about my current life, this is about Renovation 2011, so I’m going to now talk about SATURDAY.
I began my day by getting gussied up as best I could, putting on a grey waistcoat and pants. If I was going to the Hugos, I wanted to look good… and… maybe pass as steampunk for the rest of the day. I followed up by utterly failing to go to the first three panels I meant to hit (those being SF Physics Myths, Technology as Cure, and The Importance of Continuity). I also failed to sign up for Pat Rothfuss’ Kaffeeklatsch, as it filled up nigh instantly and I was just a little slow that morning. I had good reason though — I was back in the Exhibit Hall with Joe Siclari of The Fan History Project, who in turn was busy introducing me to David Kyle! I also met his son, Arthur. Our conversation was a bit brief, as Mr. Kyle had a bit of trouble hearing me in the loud expo hall. The most interesting tidbit I gleaned was that according to him, he’s the reason that conventions are called (and thought of as) conventions. The story he told was this: in 1936, at that first fan meetup in Philadelphia, he and his friends were sitting in the back room of a bar owned by a friend’s father. At the time, the Republican and Democratic national conventions were going on, and this came up in the conversation. This came up in conversation, and eventually David Kyle said “Well, if they can have conventions, why can’t we?” And thus did SF meetups come to be called “conventions.”
I also talked to Joe about the split that happened in the 60s where SF cons gave way to comic book conventions, and how fandom changed there. My notes on this subject are sadly a bit unreadable (this happens whenever I handwrite anything, thanks to my dysgraphia). I’ve got a bit about a fanzine in the 1940s (I think?) which had articles about comics, something called “Xero”, the names Don and Maggie Thompson and “boondoggle.” There’s also a bit about an explosion of regional cons, Star Trek, and “mystery fandom, media fandom, comics fandom, late 60s.” What I remember about this was namely that in the early 60s fandom became divided and split over a number of issues, and as the decade progressed the large cons split into smaller regional cons, and further fans split off into other fandoms due to these disagreements. I don’t recall yet what they were over (obviously something I should research!), but there was definitively a huge influence from the growing Star Trek fandom, which decided that it didn’t feel welcome at literary SF cons and so split into its own, kicking off a split into other media cons. The first Comic Con (Which I think was actually held in New York) was held around this time — another tidbit I need to investigate. I wish I’d been able to take better notes, but sadly when I handwrite my notes I simply cannot read what I’ve written down (someday I might enlist a helper in this regard…)
After that, it was finally panel time! My first panel was The Origins of Fandom and the Very Slow Internet, chaired by Lenny Bailes, Andrew I. Porter, Mike Scott, and Mike Ward. This was an interesting if somewhat unfocused little panel about fannish behavior through the ages, and the way that fandom ultimately acts as a way to connect with people, regardless of the subject matter. Great discussion was had on the parallels between SF fandom and other fandoms, such as baseball fandom and model train fandom, the similarities and differences in behavior and how, despite developing in entirely separate ways, they still maintain parallel traditions and organizational modes. I had a great time talking to the panelists, and in the end they all gave me their business cards (and I gave them mine)!
Next up was Why are fans good at running conventions, and how did that happen? with panelists Vincent Docherty, Helen Montgomery, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Rick Weiss, and Ben Yalow. Naturally this panel focused on why fans are good at running SF conventions, not conventions in general; specifically, that same elitism of “We don’t use outside sources/advertising revenue/have corporate sponsorship” ran throughout (an attitude I find a little grating from SF fandom, particularly when coupled with their complaints about media and anime cons stealing all the young folks). Still, the panel confirmed a lot of what I already felt — namely, fans are good at running conventions because of their passion and dedication to the subject matter. Fans, being geeks, are also often talented in some other field: if not finances, than at least mathematics, and a fellow who can organize a weekly DnD group or science fiction club at least has some organizational skills. Finally, fans have friends. If there’s one thing fandom is immensely talented at, it’s networking, and that seems to be the way these cons get going — massive, vicious, gung-ho networking. As someone (I forget whom) on the panel pointed out: the people who run business conventions have business skills of 4 and team skills of 1; whilst SF con runners have business skills of 0, but team skills of 5.
I had a break between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm, and I genuinely cannot remember what the heck I did during that time. There’s nothing in my notes that suggest I went to any other panels; I did stand in line for kaffeeklatches only to discover that the person I’d wanted to see (Tim Powers) had rescheduled his for… Wednesday, and because I hadn’t been paying attention I hadn’t known. Whoops. I think I must have wandered the Dealer’s Room after that, because I honestly can’t think of what else I could have done. At some point, free books and swag were obtained (I’ll get to that in another post), but other than that? It’s all a blank. I think I may have gone to the con suite to decompress, rest a bit, and hang out with Amanda, but I honestly cannot recall!
After that I went to what would prove to be the most disappointing panel of the convention. It wasn’t necessarily because of the panelist or the subject matter, I think I simply had different expectations than what was delivered. The panel was The Futuristic Legal System — Legal Dilemmas in the Not So Distant Future. The title and panel description lead me to believe that this would be a cogent discussion on issues such as copyright law in an age where everything is online, the personhood of robots, and so on; instead it got very, very dry and academic (even for something that was part of the academic program) and focused a lot on SF films and television shows and not so much on literature. I’d hoped for some insight in how to construct the legal system of a near-future world I’ve been developing, but got nothing and instead ended up extremely bored.
For dinner, I believe Kevin, Amanda, and I went to the Bistro in the Atlantis, and had a fine meal, though I accidentally ordered something with jalapeno in it, which made it not so much a fine meal for me as “wow, I can’t taste anything.” (not a fan of jalapeno or related peppers).
Then it was time for the Hugos! Everyone was done up in suits and ties and looked so very dapper; I felt underdressed myself. First, David Kyle gave the Big Heart Award, an award for fannish service to the community; then Lev Grossman won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. After that, the artist Marie Gelineau revealed her beautiful design for this year’s Hugo Award base, a stained glass piece depicting primitive sea life and a background inspired by the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, thought to possibly contain such life forms. Everyone was quite impressed, and all agreed that this was one of the most beautiful Hugo awards yet.
I won’t bore you by listing the results; you can see them on the Hugo Award website. I will bring up a few points though. First: there were ENTIRELY too many episodes of Doctor Who nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form, and the pieces “Fuck Me Ray Bradbury” and “The Lost Thing” were absoultely robbed, especially the last one, which is a gorgeous piece of crafstmanship. No offense to Doctor Who, which is a great show, but owning three of the five entry slots is a little ridiculous (no doubt “Game of Thrones” will do the same next year…) Second: Chris Garcia of the Drink Tank had the absolute best acceptance speech, which you can see over here on BoingBoing (sorry for the ad, but it’s the only video I could find). I did give him a hug on Sunday, the guy totally deserved it.
After that, it was time for the grand Hugo tradition of drinking until you can’t see straight. Kevin, Amanda, and I headed back to the Atlantis for an evening of wandering up and down stairways, wondering where the other people were, and, well, drinking. I didn’t manage to get any guacamole at the LoneStarCon3 party, sadly enough (I hear it was fantastic). I initially had the opinion that the Klingon Black Hole party had the best booze; it certainly had the best atmosphere, with Klingons in full costume, carved faux stone decorations, a bar decorated with a cutaway view of a Bird of Prey, and a looped video of various Star Trek scenes. They had a number of drinks, including the Phaser Shot, the Warp Core (which I had), and Revenge, which if you ordered was loudly declared to be “A DRINK BEST SERVED COLD.” Sadly they were out by the time I arrived. I then meandered to the Brotherhood Without Banners, an “A Song of Ice and Fire” themed party that was VERY crowded. I had… something green (can’t recall the name at all!) before deciding it was a bit TOO crowded, grabbing a bottle of water, and absconding for clearer air.
But again, the best party of the night belonged to Lev Grossman, at the Two Moons Inn party. The conversation there was most excellent, and for a second time the beer was the most fabulous beer I’ve ever had in my life. I cannot for the life of me remember the names, but the flavors stand out: a hoppy lager that tasted of wildflowers (and I normally hate hoppy beers, but this one was not bitter, but instead mild and with a layered flavor), and a darker brew that had a distinct taste of chocolate, woodsmoke, and oak. The conversation too was excellent, though lost in a haze of “I already had three drinks and now I’ve had two beers, whoops.” The most memorable one of the night? Cordially discussing my atheist beliefs with a Muslim gentleman, and discussing his own beliefs. Reasons I love fandom, indeed.
Alas, I had to get back to my hotel room first, as I had a very early and very important panel the next day; else I would have stayed the whole night!
Hello, everyone; I’m not dead, just caught in the throes of a lazy summertime.
I recently finished the book The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz. This book is a chronicle of the history of science fiction fandom in the 1930s. It happens to be the most thorough resource I’ve found thus far on the beginnings of fandom, far easier to track down than ancient fan magazines. Furthermore, while it is biased, it’s biased in a different direction than most resources of its type: most of the memoirs of early fandom (Pohl and Asimov, for instance) are firmly in the Futurian camp. Moskowitz, of course, was one of the leaders of New Fandom, the counter-resistance group to the Futurians, thus this book isn’t precisely kind to the latter. That said, my cross-referencing with other works, including primary source documents and a confession by one of the Futurians, suggests that while they weren’t the demons Moskowitz sometimes makes them out to be, they certainly were rather arrogant and entitled towards fandom as a whole.
Sadly, the book is about as dull as a sack of hammers. There’s very little about what the clubs were like in their day to day meetings, almost no physical description or even notes about the personalities of those involved. Nearly the entire first half of the work is little more than a list of fan magazines.
That said, it still remains the most comprehensive account of early fandom I’ve found thus far, and there are some real gems in it. Moskowitz’ account of the first World Science Fiction Convention is fantastic, as are his accounts of the various indignities he suffered at the hands of Donald Wollhiem – not because they’re shining unbiased accounts, but because they’re a glorious account of the infighting and backbiting that went on in fandom in those days. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: fandom has never changed, people have always spelled things badly, fought over irrelevant things, and gone on giant ego trips.
I think the most interesting thing I’ve discovered thus far was that Moskowitz was only 19 years old when he ran the first Worldcon. Given that, I hardly find the fact that he banned the Futurians from entering, I mean, I would have too if I was nineteen years old and had been repeatedly trolled!
I’ll be trying to take more detailed notes before I have to send this book back through Interlibrary Loan. I wish I owned a copy, but the only available ones are $50 (!) and I just don’t have that kind of cash, especially for a book I’m likely to cover with notes and highlighter. If only there was a way to make a digital annotated copy… ah well.
When you write creative nonfiction, citing your sources isn’t generally something you do. It does happen, certainly, but those citations tend to be in the backs of the books or in footnotes, sort of tangential. At least, so I’ve discovered thus far. I could be wrong, and some nice commenter could show up and slap me in the face to inform me of how wrong I am, but in the books I’ve read – yes, even the ostensible histories – most of the time you don’t have some long bibiliography done in perfect MLA or APA format.
Let me tell you, it’s liberating.
But at the same time I still feel like something’s lacking. I certainly don’t miss having to attribute every line to someone (as I had to in high school and undergrad) but then again I find fascinating stuff in my sources. There’s something about the character of these primary source documents that really changes how you look at them, quirky little asides and so on that alter perception.
This is especially true when some of my primary sources are so much fun. For example, the last section I submitted for class was on the 1939 WorldCon and the conventions leading up to it. Let me tell you, these were exciting times. These conventions were the birth of cons, and they really show both how the more things change, the more things remain the same.
The First Five were more like glorified club meetings than actual conventions. The only difference was that they involved people from out of state and a professional presence. Other than that, they seemed to involve a lot of rule-making and passing of motions (SF clubs back in the 30s were big on Passing of Motions and Seeming Important.)
And a lot of infighting.
I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I will give some links to the primary sources I’m using to reconstruct these events, so you can peruse them on your own.
First, has a lot of great short articles, namely a list of conventions. These entries are pretty incomplete. I got a lot more of my information from these fanzines covering the first Worldcon, Nycon 1. The second link on that page has a more detailed summary of the first conventions in it.
For a little more information on Third Eastern, it’s best to look at it from the perspective of
Michelism, since that’s really what defined that particular con. The speech Wollhiem gave for Michel is available here. It is delightfully bombastic and wonderfully serious, with a real sense of dire emergency and an air of urgency surrounding it. Fandom was serious business, ladies and gentlemen.
Now, for the first Worldcon, the very best source is the aforementioned fanzine index, but also this official souvenir booklet. The earlier Fandom Wank link to the bit about the Exclusion act (This one!) is honestly the best source for information on that debacle.
Hopefully I’ll be able to make a more substantial entry on the early cons once I get more research done! It’s a long hard road.
In other news! I’m hoping to have more time to devote to this blog soon – right now I don’t due to classes. This summer though, I should be able to go 100%! You can expect more fun entries soon.