Fanac Octothorpe

Leigh Edmonds’s and Mark Plummer’s locs

The below locs were sent to us as part of Octothorpe #97 and #98, and are reproduced here because we didn’t have time to discuss them properly on the podcast itself.

The below locs were sent to us as part of Octothorpe #97 and #98, and are reproduced here because we didn’t have time to discuss them properly on the podcast itself.

Leigh’s first loc (#97)

Dear Octothorpians

Your comments about Nasfic sent me scurrying to my historical sources. It was my memory, and the documents I can find confirm me in my thinking, that you can blame the Nasfic on Australia. When we first started thinking seriously, in 1970, about bidding for a WorldCon we quickly realized that we would have no chance bidding against an American city. The solution was the change the WSFS rules to give the Americans a big convention to go to if they weren’t going to come to Aussiecon. It is my memory (can’t find those bloody pieces of paper right now) that some Americans agreed and it was Bruce Pelz (I think) who moved a motion to include a Nasfic in the WSFS constitution at Heicon.

As to whether Nasfic should remain in the WSFS constitution, that’s for people with bulging brains who know more than I about fan politics to think upon. Right when we started John Foyster pointed out that it would be cheaper and easier for us all to go to Worldcons in America than to bid for and run our own. He was right, of course, just ask Perry Middlemiss and he will confirm it. But that’s not how trufans think, is it?



Leigh’s second loc (#97)

Dear Octothorpians

I was wrong! The documents I was looking for were right over there (says he pointing at a folder of papers he borrowed from Robin Johnson some time ago). It gets a bit more complicated than I had remembered – as anything to do with the WSFS Constitution invariably does. I had a look on the font of all fannish knowledge but has failed me, noting only that the first Nasfic was held in 1975. I wonder why?

Further research is required but Robin’s papers (and a glance at all the paper generated in the first two months of 1970 while Australian fans considered bidding) suggest that the WSFS Constution has been amended (at StLouisCon?) to add a fourth year into the rotation scheme and that the WorldCon would/could? be held overseas every fourth year. Along with this seems to have gone the idea that when the Worldcon was held in a nonEnglish speaking country the Hugos would be awarded by a convention in America. So perhaps (a word beloved of historians) stage one of the cunning Australian plan was to return the Worldcon bidding to the old three year rotation and, it says right here, the motion moved by Pelz was to return the WorldCon to a three year rotation cycle in North America with any site outside there being able to bid in any years. I know that Robin was involved in this because the report I have of the Heicon business session says that after the Pelz motion was passed Robin’s motion deleting section 2.04 of the rules – dealing with the Hugos as an English language only award – was passed by an overwhelming majority.

My brain hurts just trying to wrap itself around all this. That was in 1970 and I can only imagine what machinations have gone into making the WSFS Constitution the document it is today.


Leigh (who is now going to have a quiet lie down).

Mark’s loc (#98)

I was immediately curious when you seemed to be reporting Leigh Edmonds saying that the introduction of the NASFIC was something to do with the move away from Worldcon rotation. Leigh is a professional historian and very eminent (which does not mean old) so why would he be equating the introduction of the NASFIC in 1975 with the Worldcon rotation plan which dates from the 1960s and extended up to the turn of the century?

Ah, but it is more complicated that that.

The Worldcon rotation plan divided North America into three zones and the Worldcon cycled through them, so the 1961 Worldcon was west (Seattle), 1962 was central (Chicago), 1963 was east (Washington) and then 1964 was back to west again (Oakland). 1965 should therefore have been central but instead it was won by London so the rotation simply paused and then restarted when 1966 was central (Cleveland), 1967 east (New York) and so on. There was a similar skip in 1970, which should have been an east coast year but when the Worldcon was in Heidelberg and so… Liz! Liz! Wake up John!… 1971 was an east coast year (Boston).

But then it gets interesting because we continue on through the cycle with LA in 1972 (west), Toronto in 1973 (central) and Washington (east) in 1974 — which last was graced by DUFF delegate Leigh Edmonds — and so 1975 should have been a west coast year. Instead 1975 was won by Melbourne in Australia, meaning the west coast skips to 1976. You’d think that, wouldn’t you? Liz! Liz! Poke Alison with a stick. You’d think that, wouldn’t you? But no, and this is the really interesting bit — no, really it is — because 1976 was in Kansas City which is in the central zone and how much more central could it be? Well, quite a bit — if Kansas City were in, say, Kansas – but it’s still pretty central, isn’t it?

So up to 1975 the rotation paused when the Worldcon left North America but from 1975 it skipped, leading to the situation in 1987 and 1990 when it skipped two west coast zones consecutively because of the Worldcons in Brighton and The Hague and so there was no west coast Worldcon… Liz! Liz, John’s drifting off again… between LA in 1994 and San Francisco in 1993.

I should add that I am checking all this but you’d be astonished and maybe alarmed how much of it I can do from memory.

The rotation continued until the 1999 business meeting abolished it in favour of a no zone plan where the limitation was that sites couldn’t be within 500 miles of the site where the vote was held. The first Worldcon selected under that new rule was San José in 2002 although that would have been a west coast year on the old plan anyway and so the first Worldcon selected out-of-zone as it were was LA in 2006, something that may be a reflection of the long lead times for Worldcon bids.

Of course, this may well be precisely the detail that Leigh provided and you didn’t.