being a query and three response on the topic of the Urban Spaceman, covering most of page 6 of the second official progress report for Swancon 14. A small amount of space at the bottom of the page has been filled in with line drawings. On the left, there are three near identical ‘spaceman’ suits. The one on the left is the plainest, and is labelled ‘Spaceman (Generic)’; the one in the middle is standing at a bus-stop and is labelled ‘Spaceman (Urban)’; the one on the right is smoking a cigarette and saying ‘Sterling idea, what?’ and is labelled ‘Spaceman (Urbane)’. On the right, there is a different style of spaceman suit, with the individual leaning on a pole of some kind, and connected up to some big boxy thing.
As ever, typos faithlessly reproduced
So What the Hell is an Urban Spaceman?
Guy Blackman recently wrote to us with the following complaint:
“. . . my complain concerns your theme of Swancon 14 – The Urban Spaceman. This is a very vague title and I am not sure of all that it entails. An explanation would bring great gratification. ”
Guy is, I am sure, not alone in his uncertainty. ‘The Urban Spaceman’, it’s a great theme, but what the hell does it mean? we asked some of our committee members.
My ideas on the Urban Spaceman are unfortunately (and probably predictably), a little cynical. This is ‘cos I’ve heard that song by Neil Innes. After singing the praises of this wonder of today (“I’m a supersonic guy”) he concludes with “I’m the Urban Spaceman, here comes the twist, I don’t exist.”
I think the Urban Spaceman is the hero; taller, stronger, braver, smarter, faster and more blonde than any other. A wit, yet deep, cheery, yet with an inner understanding – upright and laidback at the same time (and not recommended by the Surgeon General). And there are hundreds who believe that they are this sex-god et. al., but they’re not. They don’t exist. There are no Urban Spacemen. Not one. It’s a myth. Zilch. (I think I’m going to cry – ed).
But if they do exist, I’d love to meet you. Come to the ‘con, we’ll do lunch . . .
The Urban Spaceman is one of those cleverish-sounding phrases that don’t actually mean anything in particular (except that in this case it is also the title of a song). I rather like it as a theme – I just dunno what it means. Two ideas: (1) Urban, modern settings for stories (as opposed to starships and the far future). Other Days, Other Eyes and “Press Enter ◼︎ ” rather than Orbitsville and The Ophiuchi Hotline.
(2) Armchair adventurers – frustrated wishful thinkers.
That may not be much help in suggesting masquerade costumes however . . . .
To me, the notion of the Urban Spaceman is one which is of particular interest to today’s society. The world’s population is becoming increasingly centred in urban areas and because of this new methods and styles of living are becoming necessary. As man affects his environment more and more we are also (finally) becoming aware of our impact on our world. This is the future that many SF writers have seen and already considered. We are the Urban Spacepeople.
As for masquerade costumes why not ignore the theme completely if you wish? Or, come as a piece of high density housing.