Swancon 4 Program – The Great Con Job

Transcribed by Elaine Walker, all typos and punctuation faithfully reproduced.


The Great Con Job

– the triumphs and tribulations of organizing a con.

A personal message from Your Humble Beanbagman.

Bevan Casey, the worthy editor of this program book, told me (he did not ask) to write a short piece under the above title and subtitle. Okay. That counts as a tribulation, one of many.

I wish I could sit down and dash off something sparkling and humorous, but it is hot and last night I had a row with my wife conducted in silence and a private code of body language (no, not a smack in the gob and a scratch in the eyeball but in a civilized manner beyond touching distance), then I went out with a recently arrived brother of mine and drank too much. Where’s the humour in that? Well … there was this dwarf (really, no more than a metre tall but quaffing merrily from a bigger glass than anyone else) who kept putting his arm roud the buttocks of a much taller, but younger man to prevent him from falling upon the floor in utter drunkness; and there was a fine band and a middle-aged woman (like me) (but I’m a man) who kept busting in on the young dancing couples and driving away the young chicks and dancing with the young blokes who mostly bore it with embarassed laughter. Well, I thought it funny at the time.

Ah, pubs, yes. That’s where it’s all at. SWANCON I started off humoulessly. But after the first couple of hours we all went round to the pub for lunch. I am convinced that this astute (if temporary) change of venue was the greatest single contributing factor to the success of SWANCON I. From that trail-blazing con has grown most of the SF fan activity in this state, and while I’m on the subject I’d better claim this as a triumph, then at least I have one. As a matter of fact I did not do much organizing for SWANCON I; a small event requires little organizing, and it was held at my house without any frills or pretensions; for another thing two other guys, Clifford Wind and Grant Stone, nobly did most of the work.

Line drawing of a robot on right hand side of page

I sometimes lie awake at night wondering how come I am once again chairman of a con when after the first effort (though I enjoyed it immensely) I swore to leave all such organizational attempts to those more fitted by natural inclination to such things. The answer is in fact simple; I was conned. But it is not that simple. You see, gentle conv{ention-goer}[illegible] and program book re{ader Roy an}d[illegible] Bob conned me, but I also conned Roy And Bob, and I suppose I conned myself. A close examination of the situation would probably reveal that Roy also conned Bob, and vice versa. Certainly we all conned Bevan, who by now will be asking his editorial self what all this has to do with Aztecs – no, Incas.

True confession:– My own dastardly con consists in the fact that as chairman I sit in the figurative chair (actually a bean bag) and do very little else. The only mitigating circumstance is that I made my intentions regarding workload clear to all concerned before accepting the beanbagmanship. My beanbagman qualifications are lamentably few. Apart from beanbagmanning the small event referred to above I have never beanbagmanned anything. (Do you like my new coinage? – I do).

It all started, I suppose, with AUSSIECON, the 33rd Worldcon held in Melbourne, a widely lauded event that ushered in the New Wave of fandom in Australia. AUSSIECON fired me, along with many others, with a holy fannish enthusiasm; but I believe I am unusual in recognizing from the start that though fandom might very well be a way of life, to regard it as a serious business, it is not a sign of extraordinary mental health. I regard my job as far more serious than all the fan capers in the worls, and I do not regard my job as very serious at all.

Gentle con-goer, persistent (if you have got this far) reader. In Melbourne among the New Wave fans I observed funny little but quite bitter feuds, I lent an ear (for shame) to succulent and nasty gossip; between Melbourne and Sydney if you read the fannish publications you will have noticed a certain amount of mud-slinging; noble WASFAN (if you are or aspire to be), there are even signs of such amusing little social interactions here in Perth. But get it straight: the game’s not worth the candle. Fandom is trivial. More than nine-tenths of science-fiction, regarded from a literary standpoint (the only intelligent way to judge it), is crap. The only justification for science-fiction or fandom is that it is fun. If you don’t it fun then gafiate.

On this happy note I will say Heigh Ho, Cheerio, Tallyho, On with the Con………


NOTE: gafiate = Get Away From It All, i.e. drop out of fandom.

At the bottom of this page is a weird looking alien, vaguely flying saucer shaped with two eye-stalks (including eyelashes) and a question mark between the stalks.

About australian sf-history

ASFDAP was set up in 2011 after the rediscovery by the wider SF community of an impressive hoard of Australian SF community related ephemera, fanzines and other materials in the Murdoch University basement.

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