Twenty seventeen plan

Expect, gentle reader, for postings to be less frequent through 2017 than they have been in previous years (notwithstanding that they’ve been a bit sparse over the last couple of months anyway). This year we plan to focus on updating the wiki — going through the article for each Swancon in turn and ensuring that it reflects everything we know about that Swancon.

We also plan to add more to our flickr page.

We’ll keep the world posted with our progress.

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Swancon 2001 – Masquerade – Progress report 3 – Dave’s Rave

Being the Convenor’s report from the front page of a 10 pp A4 progress report. As ever, typos mostly faithfully reproduced…

Dave’s Rave

(Convenor’s Report)

I’m happy to say Swancon is really starting to come together. We are hard at work putting together what we think will be a great program. Its already off to a good start, with some great guests and some great events. I am particularly impressed with a fantastic response to our academic program. I am really looking forward to the con, and I hope you are too.

But remember, making a great con involves all the members, not just the con committee. This PR is the interactive one – you can offer to help, give us feedback on our draft program, and support the Ditmars and Tin Duck awards (and Australian and West Australian SF and fandom) by nominating work that you think deserves recognition.

The program is especially important – we are still putting it together, and still looking for program items and panelists, and now is the time to volunteer. While we are trying to include everyone, we really want people to approach us with ideas, so we can include the great diversity of fannish interests. We really want to hear ideas from everyone. We have a draft program, but the eventual program will be quite different – because is will be filled with YOUR ideas.

If you happen to be reading this in another state and wondering how you can make it to Perth for Swancon, check out the NAFF announcement elsewhere in the PR – there is a new fund to bring a fan interstate for the national convention each year. On behalf of the current natcon, I’d like to thank Grant* and Sue-Ann** for setting it up, and thank them for their effort (though you can blame me for the silly name).


* Watson
* Barber

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Masquerade Swancon 2001 progress report 2 — Dave’s Rave

Transcribed by Doug Burbidge – all typos faithfully reproduced.

Dave’s Rave

Swancon 2001 is pleased to announce that we will have as our International Guest of Honour Robert Silverberg, Hugo and Nebula award winner, and author of more than 100 sf books. As those who attended Worldcon in Melbourne last year will know, Robert is not only a talented and prolific writer but also a witty, knowledgeable, and entertaining speaker on almost any issue to do with science fiction.

Accompanying him will be his wife Karen Haber, also an sf writer and editor – we are very pleased to have her as well.

Robert should be a wonderful guest, and we are grateful to Harper Collins for their assistance in bringing him across.

While we are busy preparing for Swancon, we would also urge you to think about getting involved. We will have an art show and a short story competition in conjunction with the con, and a short film festival beforehand, all of which are great opportunities to show off some of the great talent that exists in Australian fandom. Another way you can get involved is by coming along to our open programming meetings. If you have some ideas for what you would like to see at Swancon, please come along and let us know, or email us if unable to attend. Swancon is a chance for everyone in fandom (in Perth particularly, but we really want national involvement) to share their interests, their enthusiasms, their ideas and most of all to get together and have a good time. So please let us know what you want to see, how we are doing, and what you would like to do – because its your con, the members, not ours.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to those who have offered to help Swancon in various ways. A particular thanks to Harper Collins Australia, to JAFWA, and to The West Lodge. All your contributions are valued.

And lastly, a big woohoo to Cathy Cuppitt, Swancon committee member and DUFF winner, who by the time you read this will already be on her way to Worldcon to spread the word about Australian fandom and Swancon. Have fun Cathy, and remember that you will be sharing the experience with us all in your DUFF report at the Con!

Convenor and Chairthingy

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By Chris Creagh with help from all others
My job is to look through what we have blogged about SwanICon, find the holes and then fill them.
So the first thing I have found in PR1 is that they used to do a Freeform every month.
Just in case you are a newb, a Freeform is a theatrical style live-action roleplaying game which is not heavily combat focused. It is more about character interaction and story than battles. They can be one-off events or regular events in which the story continues. The players usually act the part they are playing rather than sitting around a table, though usually in a fairly limited playing area, one or two rooms maximum. Dice or cards may still be used to decide conflict rather than pitched battles with foam rubber weapons (the latter is more combat LARP). Each character has objectives, they may know who they are and what they are like, but in at least one Freeform that we know of (thank you Anna, Simon & Grant) this was not the case “You are in a room you do not recognise, with a load of people you do not know.” In the middle of the room was an obelisk. At some point there was a disembodied voice counting down. The aim was to survive!

Some freeforms have distinct factions, others are entirely cooperative, and in others it is every character for themselves.

The setting for a Freeform can be based on known genres (TV, movies, books) or made up. The How to Host a Murder style games are a more pre-packaged example of a Freeform but really what they are about, how complicated they are, and what the goals are are only limited by your imagination and free time.

For more information visit freeform role-playing or start a conversation at SwanCon.

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SwanICon Progress Report 2

Summary by Doug Burbidge.

I see that I have blogged SwanICon’s PR1:

SwanICon Progress Report I

And now (a mere three years later) it’s time for SwanICon’s PR2 (which I shall summarise in similarly slap-dash fashion).

A5, composed of A4 folded and stapled-stitched. 8 pages, plus a Fold-A-Lope as the centrefold, all on white 80 GSM.

The top right of the front cover shows a gargoyle atop some suitably gothic structure, being struck by lightning. The top left has a small SwanICon logo featuring a different piece of gargoyle art, plus “Progress Report 2 July 1998”. Then in larger letters “SWANICON”, with the “IC” very large to emphasise that it stands for “99”. The bottom of the cover declares “The 24th Annual Western Australian Science Fiction Convention 1st — 5th April 1999”.

The inside cover has similarly colophony information as PR1.

Page 3 features Julian Ackermann welcoming us to the con and to the progress report. The bottom half of the page describes an Anime Screening at Curtin.

Page 4 is “Paul Kidd-a potted history”.

Following the Fold-A-Lope, page 5 is “Daimyo’s Challenge”, a freeform. The bottom of page 5 tells us that we can buy memberships at A Touch of Strange Bookshop, Quality Comics, Tactics, Super Nova Books, Valhalla Games & hobbies, JAFWA, UniSFA, “And from your friendly Icon Committee.”

Page 6 is the Gaming Report, describing what was planned for the convention.

Page 7 is “members”, listing about 90 members, including 3 GoH’s, 2 Special Guest, 4 Invited Guest, 7 Committee, and one Fan Guest.

The top half of the back cover is mailing details: the return address, the “SURFACE MAIL” and “POSTAGE PAID AUSTRALIA” boxes, and space for a mailing label. The bottom half lists committee and “Friends of the Committee”.

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Festival of The Imagination 1996 – December 1995 Newsletter – Page 9 – Freeform Report

Page 9 of this progress report covers, in the top half of the page, “Fundraiser Quiz”, and in the bottom half of the page:

Freeform Report

As part of the fundraising for the Festival of the Imagination 1996, a series of freeform roleplaying events have been run at Caffe Sport in Northbridge. Begun as a one-off event, the response has been so enthusiastic that the Festival freeforms have become a monthly event. The freeforms are usually run on a Sunday afternoon and have about 20 to 25 players, each of whom contributes a small ($5.00) donation to the Festival. The management of Caffe Sport are kindly allowing the festival to use the private downstairs room free of charge.

We have a list of forty eight names of people who are interested in both the writing and playing of these freeforms, and we’d welcome any other people interested in taking part in these events.

Many thanks to:

  • Robin Clarke (for unpaid and tireless devotion to the whole project)
  • Stefen Brazil, Derek Bazen, Nick Evans and Danielle Robson (for allowing us to exploit their creativity and mess with their minds)
  • Joe from Caffe Sport (for letting troops of oddly dressed people behave strangely in his private room)
  • Everyone who has shown such enthusiasm for the freeforms. All of you have made this project not only a success, but also great fun.

Finally, anyone interested in participating in the festival freeforms or with any related questions can contact Stefen Brazil on (09) xxx-xxxx or Robin Clarke on (09) xxx-xxxx.

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Festival of The Imagination 1996 – December 1995 Newsletter – Page 7 – Video Programme

Transcribed by Elaine Walker. If I find any typos I will do my best to reproduce them.

Video Programme

The bleary-eyed video manager staggers out of the darkened room, into a world of light and colour. Its taken six months, but he has finally recovered. No more dark rooms, with giant video screens. He can get on with his life, suddenly a cold feeling runs down his back, a memory resurfaces. It was 6am on the last day of the convention, just after his brain had been flushed out. The dreaded words were said:

“Yeah sure, I’ll help with the video programme for next years Con.”

Oh well, his fate sealed, he turns and re-enters the dark room to search for the obscure, the classic, the brilliant and the weird, that will become the video programme for The Festival of the Imagination 1996.

So what’s this year’s video stream going to offer all those individuals who love to spend endless hours in a darkened room watching flickering lights projected onto a large screen.

  • Nightly features, with the Director’s cuts if possible, with a few surprises.
  • Homage to the centenary of the SF film genre.
  • Daily Australian and New Zealand films (we even found ones that don’t have “Max” in the title!)
  • Hong Kong Chaos (lots of guns, martial arts, tacky special effects and over the top action)
  • Rubber Suit Monsters (big guys in in bad costumes, who just love to destroy cities)
  • Open screenings. These will occur very late at night, so bring in any videos you wish to show others or simply to watch yourself. So remember – we want your videos.
  • If all goes well an audio stream.
  • Plus an assortment of the usual and unusual stuff (classic TV series, animé, etc.) and a whole bunch of new stuff you haven’t seen but should.

All this will be sorted into a continuous 24 hour video program that we hope will blow your mind.

P.S. Please remember, when entering or leaving the video room, do not trip over the dead video attendants at the door.

“The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye.”

David Cronenberg, Videodrome


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Festival of The Imagination 1996 – December 1995 Newsletter – Page 5 – Additional Guests

Transcribed by Elaine Walker. All typos have been preserved as much as possible. Layout has not.

The Festival of the Imagination 1996 is dedicated to offering our members the opportunity to meet and interact with wide range of guests, particularly those from our own SF communities, be they literature, media or gaming. Therefore, in addition to our international guests, we are pleased to welcome a number of local guests around the country and around the world.  To date, these guests include:

Stephen Dedman

Stephen Dedman attended his first con, sold his first SF story and played his first RPG in 1977. Since then, his stories have appeared in F&Sf, Asimov’s, Science Fiction Age, Strange Plasma, Aurealis and Eidolon, and the anthologies Little Deaths, Alien Shores, Metaworlds, and Terror Australis. He has recently sold his first novel, The Art of Arrow Cutting, to Tor Books. He is also the author of GURPS Dinosaurs (stomping your way in May 1996) and several RPG adventures and articles. He’s also feeling a little overwhelmed at the size of Doctor Janeen Webb’s biography (Sorry Stephen!)

Dr. Janeen Webb

Janeen Webb is senior lecturer (professor) of literature at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. One of Australia’s leading SF critics, her work is also widely published in the USA, England, Germany, and Austria. Her books include Trends In The Modern Novel (Institute of Early Childhood Development), Modern Australian Drama (with G McKay) (Institute of Early Childhood Development), and Storylines (with M. Tyrell) (Oxford University Press).  Dr Webb is currently working on critical bibliographies of William Gibson, Angela Carter, and Thomas Keneally for the Borgo Press Modern Authors series. She was co-editor of the Australian Science Fiction Review from 1987 to 1991. This bi-monthly journal was the premier science fiction forum in Australia and had a world wide influence on science fiction, especially in the USA. She is a consultant and contributor to the Hugo award winning Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls. Dr Webb is listed in The Who’s Who Of Academics In Australia, The World Who’s Who Of Women (13th edition) and the International Who’s Who of Intellectuals (11th edition). She is a Special Guest at the Festival with her husband Jack Dann.

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Festival of The Imagination 1996 – December 1995 Newsletter – Page 4 – Jack Dann Biography

Transcribed by Elaine Walker. Any typographical errors have been carefully preserved.

Jack Dann

Jack Dann, a Special Guest at the Festival of the Imagination 1996, is the author or editor of over thirty-five books, including the novels Junction, Starhiker, and The Man Who Melted. Dann’s work has been compared to Jorge Luis Borges, Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, Castaneda, J. G. Ballard, and Philip K. Dick. Philip K. Dick, author of the stories from which the films Blade Runner and Total Recall were made, wrote that “Junction is where Ursula Le Guin’s Lathe Of Heaven and Tony Boucher’s ‘The Quest for Saint Aquin’ meet … and yet it’s an entirely new novel … I may very well be basing some of my future work on Junction.” Best selling author Marion Zimmer Bradley called Starhiker “a superb book … it will not give up all its delights, all its perfections, on one reading.” Library Journal has called Dann “… a true poet who can create pictures with a few perfect words.” Roger Zelazny thinks he is a reality magician and Best Sellers has said that “Jack Dann is a mind-warlock whose magicks will confound, disorient, shock, and delight.” The Washington Post Book World compared his novel The Man Who Melted with Ingmar Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal.

His short stories have appeared in Omni and Playboy and other major magazines and anthologies. He is the editor of the anthology Wandering Stars, one of the most acclaimed anthologies of the 1970’s, and several other well-known anthologies such as More Wandering Stars. He also edits the multi-volume Magic Tales fantasy series with Gardner Dozois and is a consulting editor for Tor Books. He has been a finalist for the Nebula Award eleven times and a World Fantasy Award finalist three times. He has also been a finalist for the British Science Fiction Award, and is a recipient of the Premios Gilgames de Narrativa Fantastica award.

High Steel, a novel co-authored with Jack C. Haldeman II, has been published in hardcover by Tor Books to rave reviews. British critic John Clute called it “a predator … a cat with blazing eyes gorging on the good meat of genre. It is most highly recommended.” A sequel entitled Ghost Dance is in progress.

Dann’s major historical novel about Leonardo da Vinci–entitled The Memory Cathedral–will be published in hardcover by Bantam Books in December, 1995. Morgan Llwelyn called it “a book to cherish, a validation of the novelists art and fully worthy of its extraordinary subject”, Lucius Shepard thought it was “an absolute triumph”, and Kirkus Reviews called it “An impressive accomplishment.” Dann is currently working on The Silent, a new novel about the Civil War, which will also be published by Bantam.

As part of its Bibliographies Of Modern Authors Series, The Borgo Press has published an annotated bibliography & guide entitled The Work Of Jack Dann. A second edition is in the works. Dann is also listed in Contemporary Authors and the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series; The International Authors And Writers Who’s Who; Personalities Of America; Men Of Achievement; Who’s Who In Writers, Editors And Poets, United States and Canada; Dictionary Of International Biography; and the Directory Of Distinguished Americans.

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Festival of the Imagination 1996 July 1995 Newsletter – Bruce Sterling

Page 3:

Bruce Sterling


Sean McMullen

When I open a magazine and see Bruce Sterling’s name in the contents list I go to that story first. Whenever he has a new book published I buy it, unseen and unreviewed. Okay, this might sound like the blind dedication of a devoted fan, but that’s not really the case. Because I work full time as well as writing SF, I have no time to waste reading stories that turn out to be turkeys, and I have found that Bruce Sterling never produces a turkey. His writing is entertaining, imaginative and perceptive, yet easy reading as well, and working through his collected works could be a pretty good course on writing science fiction.

I have been asked to do a piece on “The A to Z of Bruce Sterling’s writing”, so let’s start with the obvious bits first, like Does Bruce Sterling = Cyberpunk? Well, it’s partly true, but there is a lot more on the left hand side of the equation than most people realize. Sterling was certainly one of the dominant influences in cyberpunk’s development, yet he is also a scholar, science populariser and prophet of the Age of Networked Information — there is a lot more to his science fiction than cyberpunk. Apart from winning the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1989, he has had 15 Hugo and Nebula nominations — that’s over seven times more than all Australian authors have ever notched up.

Sterling’s first story, “Man-Made Self” was published in 1976, the year that he graduated with a BA in journalism. He was then 22 years old. The following year he sold his first novel, Involution Ocean, which is set aboard a ship on a dust sea on a waterless planet. In 1980 his second novel, The Artificial Kid appeared; a fast-paced, high-tech, martial arts harbinger of the cyberpunk movement which was then just stirring into life (although William Gibson’s benchmark cyberpunk story, “Johnny Mnemonic” was still a year in the future). After a string of successful short stories his novel Schismatrix was published in 1985, chronicling the transformation of the human race as part of his Shaper/Mechanist saga. Around this time Sterling changed his approach to writing from literary fantasist to literary technologist. His SF now featured much sharper, harder detail, and was even more firmly based on both known science and informed speculation.

Even in fantastic settings his increased emphasis on detail and scholarship is apparent. Whether it is the distant past or the future, Sterling’s writing has a way of putting you right there in the time and place. His short story “Dinner in Audoghast”, published in 1985, is set in a medieval Islamic city in the Western Sahara, and is crammed with rich detail that brings the lost city to life. This was also the year that he edited Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, providing in the preface one of the most clear, concise overviews of the nature of cyberpunk that one is likely to find. The fiction itself is mostly slick, paced very fast, yet founded on a sharp-edged, streetwise culture of the future. For contrast, his 1987 story “Flowers of Edo” (nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards) is set in Nineteenth Century Japan during the transition from feudal state to industrial superpower. True to the promise of Hisaki Yasuda’s cover art, the young heroes chase and battle a demon living within the wires of the new electricity network while the city burns around them.

Islands in the Net won Sterling the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1989, and is a convincing statement of his vision of the near-future. It is both a thriller in a futuristic setting and an odyssey through a near-future global society dominated by information and communication. Traditional political institutions are being forced to adjust to the fact that national boundaries no longer really matter, yet there are still concentrations of political power wielding the very traditional weapons of intrigue and terrorism. Overall it is a convincing statement of where we might be going in the century to come, and Sterling’s future world genuinely has a lot going for it.

1989 also saw the publication of Crystal Express, featuring 12 of his best short fiction works. If anyone ever ever wanted a crash course in writing SF in the late 20th Century, this collection would have to be required reading. Seven of the twelve stories are his Hugo or Nebula nominees to that time, and five are Shaper/Mechanist stories. In 1990 Sterling’s story “Dori Bangs” collected both Hugo and Nebula nominations. The sharp-edged and stylish yet sensitive story is a study in fate and determinism: where would we be if the pivotal decisions of our lives had turned out better, and would it have made much difference at all? Note also that I said sensitive. Anyone can turn out technogrunge thrillers, but there is a lot of thought behind what Sterling writes. To me, Sterling is about as good a role model as any aspiring SF author can hope to find. His imagination is backed up by his scholarship and attention to detail, and all of Sterling’s settings are realized down to a very fine level on both the technical and social level.

When William Gibson was in Australia in 1994 I asked him what it was like to collaborate with Sterling on their Nebula nominee novel, The Difference Engine (1990). Gibson replied that in his opinion Sterling had done enough research for three or four books, yet wanted to leave it at one. The Difference Engine is set in an alternate Nineteenth Century, one in which the Babbage difference engine was brought to perfection and by the 1850s became as much a cornerstone of industry, politics and society as the steam engine. Again, the prospect of national barriers crumbling before an onslaught of computer control and freely flowing information is raised, along with logic bombs and even a hint of mechanical AI in the future.

Sterling has been said to be one of the most globally orientated of the American SF authors, and his 1992 collection Globalhead demonstrates this at least as effectively as Islands in the Net. Here we see his well-researched views of English, Russian/Soviet, Indian, Islamic, European, and even American culture. One of my favorites is “Hollywood Kremlin” (originally in Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1990), which is an accurate statement of how the Cold War was really won by the west.

It was during the writing of The Difference Engine that Sterling and Gibson increasingly found themselves invited along to scientific and technical conferences and meetings. Through their SF they had become identified as gurus of the real world’s version of cyberspace and global networking. It had taken barely a decade for technology to at least partially catch up. To some degree the readers of Neuromancer and Islands in the Net (ranging from hackers to systems administrators to company executives) liked much of what they saw, and decided that most of the technology was already good enough to support the networked-cyberspace of SF literature. Sterling’s non-fiction book The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Order on the Electronic Frontier (1992) is not just a collection of horror stories of electronic intrusion, but an informed attempt to map out the immediate future of our new electronic infrastructure. In his column in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Sterling ranges over wider scientific and technical topics and issues, but in just the same readable and entertaining way.

I have just finished reading Heavy Weather, his most recent book, and the future setting has a lot in common with Islands in the net. Here Sterling warns that the greenhouse effect is not about gradual increases in temperature, while the sea gently laps a little higher with each tide, it is about large-scale atmospheric instability and catastrophic storms. This is, of course, in line with current climatic model predictions, but he also postulates a Twenty First Century where disease control, civil order and general prosperity are by no means assured, even in industrially advanced nations. Well, I don’t like it, but I have to agree. The Twentieth Century is probably as good as it’s going to get for us, and we made it that way by spending up big on the resource and environmental credit card. The Twenty First Century is going to be a big lesson on living within our means.

Back in May 1985 I bought the latest Asimov’s magazine, saw the fantasy-style cover with Bruce Sterling’s name on it and thought “Damn, is nobody proof against the lure of the fantasy boom?” Well, that story was “Dinner in Audoghast”, it was not fantasy, it was not even cyberpunk, yet it was fantastically good. Anyone who can write as well as that just has to be worth meeting, and when I found out that Sterling was to be the GoH at the 1996 National SF Convention in Perth I booked my tickets at once. If you have read his work, you will not be able to stay away either. If you have not, keep reading …

Recommended Reading section likely way out of date. Google for it.

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