SwanCon 1 – a review by Robert McGough

This review was originally printed in SwanCon 1 – Cygnetures, from the collection of Steve Gunnell, and has been reproduced faithfully, with as many of the original typographic conventions (and errors) as possible.

Hidden in a dark corner of my local Second-Hand bookshop was a small (foolscap size) poster announcing, quietly, a small gathering of S/F enthusiasts at such and such a place, at such and such a time and at such and such a price. This was the point at which my life was drastically, if not pleasurably, but unalterably, changed! TA-DA! I tell you no lies, friends, this new wonder elixer, known in scientific circles ar S/F Fandom, is guaranteed to cure all ailments! (especially apathy). But beware of overdoses. These tend to cause the opposite of the required effect. An atrophying malaise known as GAFIATION is common in such cases. A long rest followed by reapplication of previous dosage should produce a remarkable effect.

It would seem that I had been born a “Gafiat”, content to merely read S/F and discuss it only with close friends (and only in dark secluded places). Suddenly the first does of remedy had been applied and I headed, as a true addict, straight for – “SWANCON 1”!!!

Apon arrival at the private dwelling, nominated for the starting point of the first W.A. Fandom uprising, I was plagued with an ominous line of the blurb I had read regarding the Con. This line read, “the venue is a private house thus membership of the convention will have to be limited. To be sure of membership join early”. Typically, I had sent my name and my money in at the last moment and by the date of the con my over imaginative extrapolative Sci-Fi mind had told me I would probably be turned away at the door. Such was my inner reckoning of the importance of the event!

Nervously, but full of confidence, I wandered casually in, feigning nonchalance, by tying my feet into a knot and strolling in on my hands. As I approached the daunting portals I saw that the venue was actually for my wargaming society and not for a science fiction convention as I had foolishly imagined. But this was just a front. I soon saw through the ruse by noticing a predominance of faces I did not know! AH-HA! There, cowering behind the pillars dreading (not that they knew it at the time) my imminent arrival, were what appeared to be “Officials.” One of these was a bearded creature wearing what appeared, at first sight, to be a space-suit but later turned out to be overalls. He checked my name off a list, and handed me a card with my name on it – “Swancon 1” and beneath it in hand printing the name of the occassion “R. McGough”. This is I trust some indication of my inner turmoil at the time. Finding surcease in the presence of those I all ready knew I soon calmed down and was almost relaxed as “Gough-con” got well under way.

The ice was not merely broken, but instantaneously parboiled for me by the arrival of ball of sentient orange fuzz commonly known “Grant”. This jovial person bubbled constantly with joy, enthusiasm, and utter rubbish all through the con, keeping things going quite safely and happily, much to my delight. (I have to say these things He’s printing the damn ‘zine.)

The general order of the day was desrupted from the first by Tony (Anthony Peacey our token author) who announced that the convention name had been changed to “Duckcon 13”. This was in honour of the household duck who had successfully hatched 13 chicks the day before the con. It also turned out that the first item on the agenda was the last to be adhered to in order. The item was an explanation of the whys and wherefore’s of the con by Tony, Grant, and Clifford (our token yank). Cliff owned up to being the master mind behind the whole thing while Grant admitted equal complicity in the event and Tony confessed to having been used by the other two. However used he was, to good purpose, and together the three of them showed us the path to righteousness and fan-ac. After this enlightening talk, with the group atmosphere warming up nicely, we had a couple of films interspersed with breaks for discussion and “getting to know each other”. The films for that day were on SF generally, covering its history as read by research then as seen by authors. While looking for somewhere to have lunch (and ending up in a pub of course) I got to know a few strangers a bit better and to found the first ground of many friendships started through the con.

Even as I write I realise just how many people I have met in a chain reaction through the con in just the last two weeks. Really incredible people I thought I had known previously have become new characters through personality revealed at Swancon 1. I am honestly amazed at what the group has all ready done for me.

Back to my report. The next two days (Sunday and Monday at Swancon 1) were not at all wasted! Furthering the cause of scientific fandom we plunged through:
 and Food.

Daunting isn’t it! Well, in explanation let me explain! The films, Fanzines, Books, Talks, some of the discussions, and most of the arguments centred on SF. Most of the discussions and one or two arguments dealt with anything but SF. Records played, and were played, a part in forming more bonds between people through a common ground in music, even if their SF interests were completely different. The games were associated suprisingly well with the con as they proved to be well founded on SF themes. One in particular became very popular and was played well into evenings, nights, mornings and afternoons. The beer and food to me at least, was an important adjunct to everything!

Now let me tell you what the convention accomplished.

  1. It has proven the existence of and revealted to all of us the tangeable thing known as “FANDOM”.
  2. It has introduced many people to many people and caused a rash of new friends – ships for all (I think it is safe to say) of us.
  3. It has shown that harmony, deep and sincere, can exist between people of varied backgrounds and interests and can endure.
  4. It has become such an important event to me that I can’t help but talk about “we” when referring to it.
  5. It has provoked hidden talent in those who rarely try to put pen to paper and produced enough material to compile this the first Fanzine in, I hope, a run of many.
  6. It has been the foundation of the first, as far as known, science fiction society, club, group, or whatever we decide to call it, in W.A.

I am proud to be a part of such an enjoyable project. Finally (at last) I give you my impression of the convention as a whole. Swancon 1 was an emotionally and intellectually exhausting affair. A weekend of turmoil; learning; inadequate eating; late hours and great endurance, that took me a full seven days to get over. It was wonderful!!!





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