SwanCon 1 – Cygnetures – Impressions: a blurry-eyed conreport – Clifford R Wind

Transcribed by Elaine Walker. All idiosyncracies of type faithfully reproduced

a blurry-eyed conreport

I refuse to start at the beginning. To do that would require, if not my whole fannish history (such as it is), at least an explanation of why a homebody Yank like myself should hie himself out beyond the black stump to live a time in Perth, Western Australia, and how I met those then would-be fen and otherwise odd bods Grant and Tony (and Gary and Wally), fellow perpetrators of SwanCon 1. I don’t even feel like going back to that Sunday morn that was perhaps SwanCon’s real birth. Tony blames me for the conception. I only mumbled something, a passing fancy of a Perth Convention, envisioning perhaps four or five sharing quarters for a couple of days, a minicon. I’m not to blame if Tony’s eyes then glazed as his lips went into high gear spitting out plans– advertising, posters & newspapers, programs, films & lectures, and fen, even the overeastern type. I just sort of laid back, going, uh, sure Tony.

No, let’s start on Friday night, The Night Before. After a leisurely trip down from my country abode (which being translated means fleeing gov’t housing in the parched wheat belt for 2½ hrs at maybe 130kmph ((in the rain, on bald tires, with an un-licensed vehicle)) ) I arrived. The venue was Tony’s place, with wondrous wife Gloria more or less resigned to abandoning her home to hordes of ravenous fen for a weekend, and now overseeing the cleaningup, and placing of projectors, video equipment, film cans, and zine collection, property of Murdoch University, courtesy of sleight of pen artist, Grant. As I hefted my boxes and Star Force war game, Tony’s littlest was heard to sigh, “Not more junk!”

Being trufen, or trying so hard to be, we worked in true faanish manner. We previewed one film then put everything else off until the morrow. And talked instead. Eventually Grant headed for home, Tony headed for bed, and I headed to the study, sleeping bag, and telly. I fell asleep flipping between an MJQ concert and Gregory Peck in “The Night People”.

Tony does not share my belief that had Ghod meant man to wake before six, He would’ve given us alarm clocks in our bellies.


Ah, well, last minute vacuuming, farewell to Gloria and 3/4 the kids, shifting, placing chairs, signs: No Smoking, This Way to Dunny, registration table. And then we sat, nametags proudly pinned, computerized swans riding Tony’s blue overalls and my brown jumper. We sat. Grant was late. That was faanish, we told ourselves. The attendees were nearly late. They’ll come, we said, (we had their money). The first victim showed. We sat. Six victims, with fellow conspirators Wally and Nancy. They sat, picture boods of sf history and films on their laps. Six more. Grant showed. By now the verandah was crowded, we stood. More at last arrived, the committee gathered its collective breath and we all went inside. SwanCon 1 had begun.

The comittee sat again. We mumbled something, I don’t recall what, a general introduction and welcome. Tony suggested a change of name, DuckCon, and requested the attendees take care of the 13 new ducklings waddling out back.

And so it went (to paraphrase Vonnegut). The rest is a bit of a blur, a melange of impressions. Films of sf figures, Campbell, Ellison, Knight, Anderson, Sturgeon, Harrison, Clarke, Dickson, Clarke, Bradbury, and 4E; NASA films, the Eagle, Skylab.

Siderailed lecture by local literary sf expert Maureen, with translations by Grant, active, um disagreement by Michael, and question (‘Will Science Fiction ever replace the horse?’) by Peter. A lunch of yellow plastic on toasted cardboard at the local hotel, dinner of pancakes discussing (um, we did the talking, not the pancakes) the implications, metaphysical and political of coffee with cream, midnight lasagna preceding a game in which galaxies are born and developed (ha, I won, the universe is over), a greasy boxed chicken, Chinese dinner with Michael taking tassels off lanterns (well, lantern) and writing Help! notes signed Cliff, not to mention fruit like boiled onions. A writing session after a presentation of fanzines by Grant (my boring contribution being saved only by Grant’s inspired and insane interpretation of the machines responsible for the nametags); people scribbling everywhere (oh, on paper, of course) and young Stuart madly typing and charming Geraldine (You’re over 21? said he, I don’t believe. Oh, aren’t you nice, she beamed.) Tony’s homemade video of Tarzan, with dog Rufus as Simba. Graffiti on the dunny door sign, ‘No door lock’ being amended, ‘How un-lock-key’, ‘Door closed=occupied, open=vacant’ being amended, ‘Half-open=undecided’. Interminable games of Dungeon, Damian’s mad camera flashing (even when untouched that mad camera flashed). And most enjoyable of all, talk, talk, talk.

With those three words I include many who deserve more mention, Robert, Larry, Maureen, Judy, Jane, Kevin, Roy, and many others. Because of them, I got very little sleep, but enjoyed myself very much.

A pile of student files cried out of the wilderness (well, wheat belt, close enough) to be marked, so I had to leave mid-Monday with games still going.

Once home I managed somehow to ignore those cries. I went to bed, enstead.

Thank you, SwanCon 1

Clifford R Wind (name was written in longhand)

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