transcription of pages 4 and 5 of the Trekcon III (1987) Program book. Transcription by Anna Hepworth. Typos and interesting formatting reproduced. Tabs stops completely ignored.
Each semester, the Trekcon Academy presents one or two special guests to instruct and inspire those enrolled at the Academy. This time we have the privilege of presenting two very Special Guests – that of Betsi Ashton and Diane Marchant.
We put Betsi ‘on the spot’ and asked her to write about herself –
When faced with the task of writing a science-fiction autobiography I balked, a bit, like an unwilling horse put to a new jump; ‘non-plussed’ would be the word. Then it occurred to me that the logical place to begin was the Beginning ……
To enjoy science-fiction and/or fantasy stories (which subjects are only recognised, officially – in the South Australian Education Dept;, at any rate – under the aegis of ‘Speculative Fiction’), one has, of course, to be a reader – that is, I suppose, up to the advent of television, and video tape recorders. I was brought up the tough way; I had to read! Thanks to my elder sister for this, and I blossomed under a steady diet of such classics as Alice in Wonderland, Aesop’s Fables, The Arabian Nights (definitely abridged, this last), The War of the Worlds, to name but a few. And (forgive me as I have to revert to the ‘old’ language) there were wonderful tales of fairies and giants, talking animals, and pirates; and boys who could fly and never grow old. There were (and still are, I suppose, tucked away in dark cellars) books of high adventures, such as Coral Island, and The Young Fur Traders; Knights of the Round Table, Greeks and Heroes; not to mention Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. Ah! the immortal Ulysses – could he have foretold the 23rd. Century and a man called Kirk?
What a rich heritage! I am thankful for these and many others, and regard them as friends to be visited and re-visited.
The old poets, also, fired my imagination: Kipling, and Masefield; Chaucer and Shakespeare; the Brownings, and Chesterton, and many more.
From my sister, too, I learned to enjoy doing crosswords – very good training for writers; they enlarge one’s vocabulary, and one learns to manipulate words.
I was guided to H.G. Wells, of course, and to Jules Verne, and it was not long before I found C. S. Lewis and Arthur C. Clarke; was given chills and thrills by Edgar Allan Poe and Dennis Wheatkey, and the like. And in the sudden burgeoning of hundreds of ‘speculative fiction’ writers, during the past twenty or thirty years, I have found a constant source of delight, even though at this point in time, many are past and forgotten. But there are also those who have stayed with me; one series on T.V. is, currently, being shown in Adelaide – The Wild, Wild West. Terrific show.
When Science-fiction movies began to be presented on T.V., I believe that the first one I saw was “A for Andromada”. It may, or may not have been a particularly skilful presentation, but I do know that I was very impressed with it, at the time, and it whetted my appetite for more of the same type of movie. “Here”, I said to myself, “are other people saying, seriously, that there are other inhabited worlds!” Since then I have, like thousands of others, watched most of the subsequent presentations in the genre of science-fiction and fantasy, and been given pleasure – or pain – accordingly.
But then….along came Star Trek, which not only captured the imagination but fired it as well. From daydreaming, “…wouldn’t it be wonderful if…” I found myself not only thinking about an exciting but logical Future for Humankind, but actually writing about it.
Star Trek….science, fantasy, high adventure, poetry of living, depth of feeling, humour, love of all living things…all in one package. I felt that this was what I had been waiting for – this is, at least a pat of, “What it’s all about”.
So, here we are, then…Past, Present, Guture all rolling along together, just as they should be, “…to the last syllable of recorded Time…”
Diane’s name should be well known to many fans of Star Trek, since without her Star Trek Fandom in Australia would not be where it is today! Diane is the Star Trek Welcommittee’s Australian Representative. The Welcommittee was set up to help fans find out about clubs, fanzines, and other aspects of fandom. It is a voluntary organisation with representatives in many countries.
This year also marks Diane’s 20th year of involvement with Star Trek fandom. Her interest in it began in 1967 when Star Trek was shown in Australia. She was one of the original perpetrators of the Welcommittee. When it formed she was asked to join the group as the representative for the rest of the world!
Diane was instrumental in helping many clubs set up: clubs like the British ‘STAG’, the Leonard Nimoy Club in the USA and, of course the various Australian clubs. Britain and Europe now have their own Welcommittee representative and New Zealand, last but not least, has now its own Representative as well.
As the Welcommittee representative Diane sends regular reports to their ‘head office’, keeps all the clubs up to date with Trek information, and answers queries from new and old fans alike. Her postie probably hates her but we don’t! As well as answering mail, she keeps an extensive file on Trek fandom up to date.
During her years of involvement with fandom Diane has travelled to the USA and met many of the actors/actresses and other people involved with Start Trek including the Great Bird himself. Her trips have supplied her with a bevy of interesting anecdotes some of which you will no doubt hear at the convention.
From getting a few scattered people together in the beginning, Diane’s involvement with Star Trek has grown to an almost full-time job. Throughout, her enthusiasm and love of Star Trek has never wavered.
A remarkable lady.