We're not at all clueless on how to begin this issue of Mimosa -- an
entertaining new article from Dave Langford. This is his first article for
Mimosa; an excellent collection of some of Dave's previous fan writings,
Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man, was recently published by NESFA
Fourteen Months Before. It was one of those incautious moments. I was at Boskone 29, enjoying the heady sensation of being a guest and looking forward to liberal supplies of bourbon, groupies, contracts, and coffee. "We can get them all for you," Ben Yalow explained, "except perhaps for the bourbon, groupies and contracts."
The Boskone newsletter (Helmuth ... Speaking for Boskone) had just been impressing me with its deeply professional policy of printing anything I submitted. After a few too many beers in the hotel bar I heard my mouth say, "British con newsletters are usually so boring and stark and functional." Interested in what I would declare next, I began to pay attention and found my lips issuing the statement, "What they need is better production, and traces of literacy, and more funny bits so fans will read the whole thing including the tedious programme changes." My tongue went madly on to utter, "In fact I could..."
Suddenly I found that even here in kindly America I was surrounded by committee members of Helicon, the 1993 British Eastercon, all wearing wide, fanged smiles. "You're on, Dave!" someone cried.
"Glmmmmmmpf," said my nostril as I choked on the beer.
# # # #
The Langford theory of newsletters was no more than a few vague prejudices at the time. Keeping it simple seemed a cunning plan: no elaborate DTP systems that encouraged the priests of the inner mystery to spend hours at a time laying out perfect paragraphs like exquisite corpses in satin-lined caskets. An independent survey of what I was already using for Ansible favoured WordPerfect, into which any fool can type text.
(Technical Bit Which May Be Skipped: a non-Windows WordPerfect 5.1 with Bitstream FaceLift fonts, if you really must know. The committee's weird idea that we could move stuff between the computers using Laplink was rapidly superseded by my own high-tech solution known as Hurling Floppy Disks Across The Table.)
What was the thing going to be called? Helicon was named for its site, St. Helier in Jersey, and the last con newsletter there had been called Jersey Yarns, which made me gently puke. Helicon used a 'sun' logo. Sun ... writing ... Heliograph. "I am not afraid," I wrote to the con committee, "of the totally bleeding obvious." Harry Bell drew a newsletter logo and we were in business.
Some months in advance I started writing news items. Editorial policy regarded any white space as a tacit admission of failure. And no matter how boring the lists of programme changes, I wanted the whole thing larded with funny bits to ensure it got read from end to end.
Strange anniversaries were ruthlessly researched (with help from Andy Porter's SF Chronicle birthday list, to remind the revelling fans that time's wingèd chariot was parked outside the door and blowing the horn). Besides the complete new edition of the Encyclopaedia of SF, which I luckily had on disk, I consulted that useful reference The Perpetual Pessimist: an Everlasting Calendar of Gloom and Almanac of Woe (by Daniel George) ... so the first issue on 8 April 1993 not only had birthday messages for E.J. Carnell, S.P. Meek and Ralph Milne Farley but also revealed that Helicon was auspiciously beginning on the anniversary of a failed prediction of worldwide deluge in 1524.
Thus, helped by the fact that the convention was also a noted fictional birthplace, we were ready for the traditional First Issue of Newsletter problem (i.e., no news)...
WELCOME TO HELICON. And welcome to Heliograph -- the newsletter which we understand is pronounced something like "Heliogrrraph." As noted by Helicon's most famous native, "I have the Heliconian stress on the letter 'r'." (Harrri Seldon, in Forrrward the Foundation by Isaac Asimov.)
BICENTENNIAL: in April 1793, the New England inventor Eli Whitney did a huge service to all sf professionals by inventing gin. (A Pedant Writes: That was the cotton gin, you fool. Heliograph: There's no pleasing some fans.)
The first item duly provoked an outraged response in #2, for the benefit of esoterica fans:
COMPLAINT: "What's this in issue #1 about some parvenu called Seldon being the most famous person from Helicon? What about us, then?" Signed: Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia and Urania.
But I'm getting ahead of events. All too many thrills and spills lay between the hapless editor and the first printed copy of Heliograph 1. I flew to Jersey days early, leaving Hazel to enjoy herself at home ... our different attitudes can be detected from the phone call when I got there. Me: "It was great fun, I had a window by the landing gear and the plane stopped at Guernsey on the way so I got to go up and down twice for one fare!" Hazel: "Oh! Oh, that must have been so horrible for you..." Being paranoid about electromagnetic damage to disks, I had one set in my pocket, another in my suitcase and a third traveling with Martin Hoare on a Channel ferry. Martin: "It's great fun, the crossing lasts hours and hours, and you can drink yourself silly all the way over and watch other fans get seasick and vomit all over the bar!" Me: "What a pity that I foolishly booked a plane."
After the usual adventures I was introduced to my newsroom, which in the interests of total security had a combination lock on the door. Fortunately this didn't block traffic too much, since vast numbers of British fans remembered the unchanged code from previous conventions. (Later remark by Chris O'Shea, quoted in a post-final Heliograph: "The secure store isn't, Ops doesn't, and the newsletter hasn't.")
As it finally took shape, the awesome newsletter production equipment consisted of a couple of IBMs as I'd requested, a late-arriving laser printer (with an interesting scar on its drum that led to exciting black marks in every left margin and regular hotel-wide searches for Liquid Paper), and the Chris Suslowicz Museum of Industrial Archaeology. Yes, after each master sheet slid smoothly from the 1990s DTP system it was carried across the room and backwards through yawning gulfs of time to an ancient, rickety electrostencil cutter and a Gestetner mimeograph that had seen service with the Panzer corps.
While I first stared in awe, the committee broke it to me that Chris Suslowicz, the owner and understander of all this heavy-metal hardware, wouldn't be arriving until -- according to my timetable -- about halfway through issue three. I retreated to the bar and don't remember any more that day.
Next morning, with large tracts of the newsroom still commandeered for dynamic, last-minute badge production, I and all-round technical supremo John Dallman cut two dozen electrostencils of a dummy front page I'd brought with me. Or, to be precise, we cut or failed to cut the same one two dozen times, fiddling with all the controls (and wincing at the tactless comments of badge-makers who evidently hadn't enough work to do) until in a blazing burst of Null-A insight John noticed that the stylus was bent and changed it. Sparks flew and the characteristic atmosphere of the Heliograph newsroom immediately made itself felt: a billowing mix of ozone and random carcinogens as the cutter burned its way through acres of vinyl. The fine black dust that rapidly accumulated on the computer screens was a useful index of the state of one's lungs, and to conjure up a Lovecraftian vision of nameless, blasphemous ichor you had only to blow your nose.
Then came the mimeograph, which after an hour or two I decided had not after all seen service with Rommel but with Torquemada. Let us draw a veil over this, mentioning only the anguished cries of "Can we fucking ink it from side to side, not up and down?" ... the discovery that, Roneo men all, we none of us knew where you put ink in a Gestetner ... the ransacking of countless hotel rooms for complimentary packs of tissues after agreeing that we certainly knew how to make ink come out of a Gestetner.
(By happy chance we'd picked the right electrostenciller. Con chairman Tim Illingworth had provided a second machine out of the goodness of his heart, having bought it in a junk shop and being sublimely unaware of whether it worked -- he thought we could have fun finding out. To add to the 'Lady or the Tiger' excitement there was also a second mimeo which, days later, proved to be utterly unusable owing to damage in transit...)
As the first interestingly tilted and blotchy issue hit the stands, a part-blind fan labelled as 'Blind Pew' popped in with a request that all issues of Heliograph be clearly printed in black ink for the benefit of those with dodgy vision. "Gladly," I cried, and as an afterthought went to check the huge pile of ink-tubes thoughtfully provided with the hardware. One was red and the rest were green.
# # # #
IAIN BANKS perpetuated a noble sf tradition by breaking his bed on the first night of Helicon. (As Bob Shaw discovered after Brian Aldiss broke a bed during a party there, Tynecon `74 was "a five-bed convention." Go for it, Iain!)
After cruel treatment by the Style Police, the Read-Me authors promise never again to write about 'medias' (see But What Can Replace a Fanzine, 1100 Monday). "We have now been told correct datas and rethought our criterias," said a spokesman. "There will be no more such erratas."
ARCTOPHILES "are warned that the note on an exhibit in the Art Show means it. Do Not Open The Box if you care about cuddlies!" (Chris Bell)
BREAKFAST NOTES. Q: What's red and invisible? A: No tomatoes... The Action Committee for Mushrooms At All Con Breakfasts wishes to thank Helicon for ... sorry, what was the message?
HOW TO WRITE GOOD. Jane Barnett (aged 15¼), when told by her father that her writing showed poor control of nuance: "I wouldn't recognize nuance if it came up and gently brushed my leg."
... But most attempts to give the flavour of Heliograph as it turned out run slap into the 'You had to be there' syndrome. Famous author Iain Banks is a reliable source of eccentric news at British conventions, and later provided us with another fascinating snippet by crawling around underneath the carpet in the hotel bar. The 'arctophiles' item heralded a running gag about Tom Abba's bear-in-the-box in the Helicon art show, which was shielded from unwary eyes because this unfortunate teddy-bear had been strung up with ghastly torture-hooks inspired by Hellraiser. ("Bear horror shock," began a later item. "A copy of Eon was sold...") Jane Barnett's father Paul writes as John Grant and under this name was technical editor of the new SF Encyclopaedia: he realized what a paltry and trivial job that had been when he came to work more or less full-time on Heliograph.
JOHN JARROLD becomes President of the World! Well, of World SF. Interviewed by Heliograph, the new President prised a beerglass momentarily from his mouth and said, "I didn't know what was happening, I wasn't even there, don't blame me."
BRIAN ALDISS demonstrated his mature technique for persuading one of Jenny and Ramsey Campbell's offspring to go to bed, culminating in a stentorian cry of "FUCK OFF!" (It worked.)
STOP PRESS UPDATE: Matt Campbell wishes to announce Very Loudly Indeed that Brian Aldiss's amazing Getting-the-Little-Swine-to-Bed technique (Heliograph #2) DIDN'T ACTUALLY WORK.
This was our first taste of controversy, when Mr. Aldiss put a mildly stroppy note under the newsroom door complaining of 'anti-Aldiss material' and asserting that "I told no kiddies, not even Brian Burgess, to 'Fuck Off'." Assured by witnesses that the first report was accurate, our protagonist having been a trifle off-sober at the time, we contented ourselves by printing his rebuttal prefaced by "BRIAN ALDISS, Sci Fi author, corrects..." Meanwhile he'd given the newsroom a new euphemism, heavily used for the rest of Helicon whenever alleged abuse was to be recorded: "Go to bed!"
QUESTION. Why exactly did Lawrence Watt-Evans think that he was Brian Aldiss and that John Brunner should go to bed?
Trying to make every item at least a bit amusing was a continuing policy. One slight hitch was noted... Helicon had an influx of 52 Romanians, who all arrived in suits and strange tall pointy hats, like a delegation of heavily politicized garden gnomes. My idle fingers recorded the figure and on impulse (the line looked as if it could do with a bit more text) made it '52.02'. Well, at least I didn't add 'plus or minus 0.06', but the newsroom had a procession of puzzled visitors. "We have bad trouble with newsletter. Here it says [etc, etc]. Is special meaning or" (in tones of deepening menace) "your Western sense of humour?"
Strange tongues were heard everywhere at Helicon, and to aid translation a complex system of colour-coded ribbons and little spots on con badges was supposed to indicate who could interpret between what. Fandom soon reduced the system to chaos. The 'I speak Romanian' ribbons ran out within 52.02 nanoseconds, and others lasted only a bit longer; soon the committee was running round trying to clip bits from the overlong and generous ribbons issued on the first day. Meanwhile one heard explanations like: "And that one-quarter of a tartan spot on my badge stands for how much Gaelic I know..." Your reporter confirmed himself to be deaf in seventeen languages.
My biggest linguistic mistake on Heliograph was in allowing my eyes to glaze over each time I tried to read a contribution from Colin Fine which appeared to be an essay on the artificial language Lojban. "Too long," I kept saying. "Maybe next issue." Colin had neglected to hint in his headline that, just after the point at which I invariably fell asleep, this piece announced a new and imminent programme item in which Lojban would be discussed. Oops.
Besides Romanians there were Russians, who were doing a roaring trade in obsolete KGB credentials at their dealers' room table...
SALES IN THE SUNSET: 30 people had joined
the KGB at last count. Beware the midnight knock on the door from Brian
Aldiss, the entire Family Harrison and Anne McCaffrey (who will be
carrying a small, monogrammed flame-thrower).
TRICENTENNIAL CYBERPUNK. In 1693 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz of calculus fame invented the first mechanical calculator that could multiply and divide, thus heralding an exciting new era of arguments over the restaurant bill. ("Fie on you and your Engine, fir, I had only a fmall falad and a Pepfi.")
JOHN CLUTE tergiversates: "Text is terrifying!"
OVERHEARD: "If this were a normal con all you'd have to do would be to find someone..." [And then you'd know where they were -- Ed.] * In Ops: "We printed out all the programme participant letters and A.N.Other's was three pages long..." * Programming subcommittee irregular verbs: "I reschedule, you slip, he runs late."
TRUTH SHALL BE TOLD. The spellcheck on the mighty Heliograph computer, confronted by 'committees', suggests 'comatose'...
TEN DAY WONDER TANDOORI. The Taj Mahal appears to work on the Lovecraftian approach to cuisine: "I am excited not so much by the actual presence of mysterious Bengali dishes before me as I am by the eldritch rumour and suggestion that these exotic apparitions might one day appear." Be warned... (Ramsey Campbell)
EROTIC SF PANEL: "The French are suggesting installing teledildonic machines in hotel rooms..." Mike Cule: "I'm not sure I would want to put anything of mine into any such orifices." Dave Clements: "What about your credit card?" Mike Abbott: "By barcoding suitable portions of anatomy you could pay at the same time." Brian Ameringen: "Surely, when you cross a teledildonics machine with a cash-point you get someone coming into money?"
DISCRETION. We are not allowed to reveal the number of the room in which GoH Karel Thole and Jean Owen broke the bed.
In a more serious and scientific vein, the Hotel de France venue has a built-in chocolate factory and shop, leading to a blitz of useful information:
HELICON STATISTICS! We have filled 7 Jersey hotels and drunk 1,600 pints of real ale, as at 1300 Saturday. Chocolate sales: 2,500 champagne truffles, 55* of the 5kg blocks, 7 large rabbits, 82 Easter eggs, 1 lifesize Tim Illingworth, and 20 people have taken the behind-the-scenes tour. (Still 3,000 truffles and 8,500 other chocs to go. Must Try Harder.) * By the end of Helicon, it was 238.
Quite a respectable team of Heliograph newsroom regulars had somehow coalesced out of all this insanity. I dutifully credited them all, one of my own favourite ideas being to end each issue with a credits box using linked literary 'job titles'. It was sheer luck that, having picked The Hunting of the Snark for the first such theme, I needed to credit Amanda Baker:
Heliograph 1, 8/4/93. Bellman: Dave Langford. Baker: Amanda. Boots: Dave Clements. Boojum: Caroline Mullan. Snark: John Dallman. Ocean Chart: Harry Bell. Strange Creepy Creatures: John Stewart, Mark Young
I hugely enjoyed watching fans in the bar turn straight to the end of each newsletter to find what daft link the credits had this time. The sequence went on through Niven (Thrint: Dave Langford. Grog: Paul Barnett. Speaker-to-Duplicators ...), Asimov (First Speaker: Dave Langford. Emperor: John Dallman. Mayor: Bob Webber. Mule: Chris Suslowicz. Encyclopaedists: John Grant, John Clute. Prime Radiants: Amanda Baker, Pam Wells. Second Foundation: sshh!), Dick (Glimmung, Kipple, Conapt, Pink Beam, Vugs), Wolfe (Autarch, Hierodules ... the large person who got to be the Group of Seventeen was unamused), Ballard (Drained swimming pool, Spinal landscape, Marilyn Monroe, Traven, Talbot, Travers, Talbert, Travis etc) and more. The real mind-burster that no-one could guess was based on an obscure passage of Aldiss's Report on Probability A: Impaler of Distortions, Impersonator of Sorrows, Suppressor of the Archives, Wandering Virgin -- "Thank you for making me a virgin again!" cried Lynne Ann Morse with mixed feelings, and was duly quoted out of context in the upcoming issue.
Incidentally, The Hunting of the Snark also gave us Rule 42: 'No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm'. This, alas, was not rigorously applied despite all my efforts, and urgent stints of Heliograph typing were apt to be interrupted by arcane queries in strange international accents. Once, overwhelmed by too many satirical birthday congratulations (I was 40 on the Saturday of Helicon), I must admit that the editor rose up and told all the chatterers present to "Go to bed."
CLOSING CREDTIS. Heliograph could not have been brought into existence without the help of very many people, but nevertheless it was. (Chorus: "Start again, Langford!")
# # # #
Newsroom madness grew more and more uncontrollable. Short quotations aside, I'd resolved to rewrite every single story until it was maximally terse, funny and comprehensible, or at least the first two. Meanwhile Paul toiled over increasingly excruciating headlines... Helicon had a crowd of weird emaciated punk Finns with nose-rings and things ("Differently intelligenced ... or differently nostrilled?" I mused) who claimed to be zombies and sent in countless bulletins on their rotted state: at one point I found Paul unable to decide between ZOMBIE FACTOID -- IT'S DEAD TRUE! and DEATH IS NOT THE FINNISH, and could only break the impasse by using them both.
And then there was Thog the Mighty.
Although we dutifully recorded programme changes, Heliograph production was more or less incompatible with seeing any of Helicon's programme. (The exception in my case was the banquet, which I had to attend because I was giving a speech, on particularly revolting meals in sf. Later in Heliograph: MARY CELESTE MYSTERY SOLVED BY IAN SORENSEN! "Dave Langford did the after-dinner speech.") One item, however, spread all over the convention and newsletter like some rampant fungal growth: the scabrous 'If I Ruled the Universe' election campaign.
This featured various mighty beings attempting to sway an ultimate audience vote and thus become Universal Ruler. The candidates were Sir Edmund Blackadder (Neale Mittenshaw-Hodge), Boadicea/Boudicca (KIM Campbell), Genghis Khan (Mike Cule, whose cheerleaders' chant of "Yak Fat! Yak Fat!" still haunts me), Tim Illingworth (Chris O'Shea), Ming the Merciless (Alison Scott) and Stupendous Man of Calvin and Hobbes fame (John Richards with mask, cape and of course Hobbes -- a battery-powered growly tiger which remorselessly crept along tables and fell off the end). Helicon was duly plastered with campaign posters, mostly vile lies from Blackadder ("ILLINGWORTH plays with Barbie dolls!") illustrated with grossly libellous Sue Mason cartoons. In the end the audience vote for Universal Ruler went to a last-minute write-in ... Hobbes.
My favourite silly moment in all this came when, after talking to a press photographer and coming away muttering that the bastard wasn't interested in sf but just wanted pictures of weirdly dressed fans, John Richards found a particularly insulting Blackadder poster in the hotel foyer. He faded into the secure store and, seconds later, the awesome masked figure of Stupendous Man lumbered along the corridors. With heroic and theatrical gestures the offending poster was wrenched from the wall; our superhero turned majestically away to discover that same pressman with mouth hanging open, fumbling frantically for his camera. After one ghastly frozen moment, Stupendous Man demonstrated super-speed.
This is where Thog came in. Idly filling out a paragraph in which potential world rulers abused each other, Paul remembered a bit-part character from his own fantasy novels and typed: "Thog the Mighty doesn't want to rule the world." This could have been a mistake. From commenting on the hustings ("Thog the Mighty spells universe 'gllb'."), this brutish entity swiftly overran the whole newsletter with fire and the sword. Even my carefully researched birthday lists sprouted addenda like: "Every day my birthday -- Thog." If towards the end of Helicon there was a Heliograph gestalt, a newsroom group mind, it was undoubtedly named Thog the Mighty. Wrestling wildly over the semicolons, grown men found themselves talking in Thog. "Stop nit-picking and let's print the thing." "Hah! When Thog the Mighty nitpick, nit know it have been picked."
Somewhere out there the convention was reeling along out of control: "Oh God," cried a passing committee member, "the organization's a shambles, we're just about managing to paper over the cracks, and that's not for the newsletter." There were fewer and fewer programme changes to record, and the news items that filtered in grew sillier. When soft toys start sending in contributions, you know it's time to stop:
LEWIS P. BEAR complains formally about the anti-bear and bearist artworks in the Art Show. Arnold Schwarzenbear ... [aw, go to bed -- Ed.]
One can even be reduced to raiding the newspapers:
THE INDEPENDENT's article on Helicon today catches the subtle, elusive flavour of fandom: "Otherwise it is unclear who these people are. They could be someone's neighbour or relative..."
But the manic Heliograph staff made the dangerous discovery that news items from 'outside' were hardly necessary. Desperately witty things -- well, they seemed witty at the time -- were constantly being said in our own fume-filled room, and could instantly be quoted. If Helicon had lasted a few more days the newsroom might have become a self-perpetuating news vortex, feeding madly on itself and generating endless one-liners to be listed in our ever-longer sections titled OVERHEARD, VOX POP and the like.
"You mean I'm -- wow! -- a CROSS REFERENCE in the SF Encyclopaedia?" * "Are you claiming to be nubile?" * "Someone bit me last night and I don't know whom...." * "Isn't it sad when the snappiest dressers in fandom are the soft toys?" * "Even Iain Banks doesn't know why he crawled under that carpet..." * "If I turn the Gestetner up to full speed I can make it to the Banq -- oh dear" * "I want to complain! You didn't credit my comment!" (Anon) * "A draft of artists?" "An acquisition of publishers?" "A whinge of writers." "A spittoon of Heliograph staffers." * "Why Thog not in Heliograph credits?" * "I have a Complaint. Too much chit-chat; not enough news."
I actually sought out the one aged fan who complained, in the hope of making soothing noises. The conversation went something like this... Aged Fan: "Yes, your newsletter is full of in-jokes and I'm not an 'in' person." Me: "But that 'bear' stuff is about the Helicon art show..." AF: "Never go to art shows." Me: "And this is all to do with the Read-Me booklet..." AF: "Couldn't be bothered with that." Me: "And 'Tim Illingworth' is the convention chairman..." AF: "Never heard of him." Me: "And this credits line is actually an sf reference to The Book of the New Sun..." AF: "Like I said: all in-crowd jokes."
Suddenly it was Monday evening. Helicon was miraculously over. I could start eating again, and perhaps even sleeping! To hammer home the message, I changed the subtitle box of the ninth issue from Helicon's Newspaper to The Last Dangerous Heliograph and made sure that all subsection titles referred to sf stories about entropy or the closing down of universes ('Travelers in Black', 'The Voices of Time', 'Running Down'). The final, post-closing-ceremony item was typed ... since nothing hugely newsy had happened, this merely offered an "AT-A-GLANCE SUMMARY OF THE CLOSING CEREMONY. See pages 94-146." It was all over.
(Actually there was no room to write up the full horror of the closing multi-channel slide show based on 1,000 embarrassing snaps taken at Helicon itself. Forty-five minutes after the ceremony was due to start, Martin Hoare and his team of ace technocrats carried in the projectors and began to set them up. The audience thrilled as the very first slide that actually appeared read: "That's All Folks!" Every possible permutation of the guests' pictures and names was shown, with John Brunner labeled as George R.R. Martin and artist Karel Thole as fan guest Larry van der Putte ... then Brunner as Martin and Thole as Brunner ... and so endlessly on, to a stream of esoteric technical remarks like "Now John Brunner's head's in the way of the side screen." Afterwards Mr. Hoare exulted that the committee had confessed they'd never believed he could put on the slide show at all.)
It was, as I said, all over. Unfortunately several people said interesting or appalling things at Monday night's final party, and on Tuesday, as the convention was being dismantled around me, I found myself typing up a supplementary Dead Dog Memorandum. Our mimeo experts were not in evidence; the laser printer glowed white-hot as hundreds of copies churned out to meet the delirious demand. Then I went home.
But Heliograph was the newsletter that would not die. Chris Suslowicz and Cathryn Easthope had a hotel room full of computer gear, and two more ersatz issues rolled out of my fax machine, the Undead Dog Memorandum and Embalmed Dog Missive. Excerpts follow, as rewritten by me for the unbelievably rare Heliograph Souvenir Edition:
IT IS TUESDAY, the newsletter office is deserted and the equipment has been packed for its eventual return to the mainland. Thog the Mighty has discovered that his transportation (Horde, one, for the use of) has been misbooked for the previous day and is sharpening his sword. (Alex Stewart: "Thog say, plane for wimps. Thog swim.") Langford has departed for the mainland to avoid the likely bloodshed, pausing briefly to Blu-TackTM 5,271,009 copies of the Dead Dog Memorandum to various walls. "Stop that man and nail his feet to the floor," screamed an enraged Martin Easterbrook, engaged in convention poster removal. Too late -- the denuded corridors had been fetchingly redecorated...
FOOD CORNER. There are no restaurant reports because with typical selfishness all the reporters are still in the restaurants. There is also an absence of newsroom -- the final wording on the door was "go away in a huff and never return," so copy is not arriving, and the Alternative Newsroom is making it all up from a secret location. Stay tuned.
Heliograph 10-ish, 13/4/93. Wook: Dave Langford. Clattuc: Chris Suslowicz. Chilke: Thog the Mighty. Tamm: Cathryn Easthope. LPFers: BSFA Council. Yips: Ops.
And then it was really over. The egoboo was tremendous (as editor I probably got an altogether unfair share, but that's life). The physical and mental debilitation lasted three weeks. I wonder what it would have been like to attend Helicon?
# # # #
Three Weeks After. It was one of those incautious moments. I was at Jean Owen's and Martin Hoare's wedding party, reduced to a slithering moral jelly by heady speech-making and champagne cocktails, and Caroline Mullan was telling me what she thought of Heliograph. "All right for a mere Eastercon," she allowed grudgingly, "but your approach just wouldn't work for a Worldcon newsletter like ours at ConFiction."
"Oh, I don't agree.." my mouth began to say, until I suddenly noticed we were surrounded by a horde of feral, red-eyed 1995 Worldcon committee members, licking their lips and closing slowly in. For once my brain managed to insert a few words of its own. "Er, I mean, you're absolutely right, Caroline."
Title illustration by Steve Stiles
Heliograph illustration by Harry Bell
all other illustrations by Steve Stiles