Our Kind of Fen
"6 in 60" (August 2000), 40 pps. + front and back covers by Delphyne Woods; noncezine distributed at Chicon 2000 (copies may be available from the editor)
Any Chicago fan can tell you (and will, whether you want to know or not) that Chicago has hosted six World Science Fiction Conventions in a space of 60 years, more than any other city (far more if one insists, as one should, on the technicality that most “Los Angeles” Worldcons were really held in places like South Gate and Anaheim). Deriving its title from this fact, 6 in 60 collects glimpses of fandom á la Chicago from the first Chicon in 1940 (recalled by Bob Tucker) to almost the present day, with a long excursion to Wilmot, Wisconsin (part and parcel of Chicago’s fannish geography, for reasons that the Wilcon reminiscences edited by Jon Stopa make clear).
At the time, Doug Rice and I were living in a wonderfully large apartment in Rogers Park. The address was 7660 N. Sheridan. This made a great venue to hold parties, as we could fit in a lot of people.
The next step came because I am, at heart, a lazy person. Left to our own devices, Doug and I lived like a pair of wild boars, and the apartment reflected this. However, when people were due over, the specter of my mother would rise before me and force me to clean up. I found I liked living in a clean apartment. I could find things, our cockroach problem was pretty minuscule, and it totally amazed and impressed people of the female persuasion. The next step was simple: If We Have a Party Every Week, We Will Be Forced to Clean The Apartment Every Week.
That was the driving Force behind the Thursday night get togethers.
-- Phil Foglio
The articles don’t cover all, or even most, of Chicago’s fan history, but there is much good material: Mark and Lynne Aronson on the origins of Windycon and ISFiC, Bob Passovoy on the Dorsai Irregulars, Bob and Ann Passovoy, with Ricia Mainhardt, on chocolate cheesecake, Phil Foglio on the legendary Thursday, Alice Bentley on The Stars Our Destination, Neil Rest on the Bermuda Triangle in 1988 Worldcon bid, E. Michael Blake on Moebius Theatre, Randy Kaempen on his neo-fannish experiences working security at a long-ago Star Trek convention, Barry Lyn-Waitsman on why one should stay away from any country where Ben Zuhl lives (his wife works for the State Department, currently assigned to Pakistan - see what I mean). . . .
Oddly enough, it is the Wilcon section that probably does the most to convey the spirit of Chicago and Midwestern fandom from the mid-sixties through the mid-eighties. Wilcon was essentially a weekend-long picnic for a few dozen friends of Jon and Joni Stopa. Started in 1963 it rivaled Midwestcon for “top relaxacon” honors. This section also offers the best anecdotes of the volume, such as Earl Kemp’s tale of an attempted unscheduled Wilcon involving himself, Fritz Leiber, intoxicated driving in the middle of the night, early morning skinny dipping and other matters that shouldn’t be talked about in front of children.
Likewise of if not wholly in Chicago is General Technics, concerning which Jeff Duntemann writes a moderately wacky account: “History is written by the victors - except, of course, when the victors forget to take notes. Then history is anybody’s guess.”
Most people might be intimidated by all these big guys in alien makeup and military costumes, but nevertheless two drunken mundane sports fans started a shoving match that escalated into a fist fight.
Hotel security was called, but before the security staff arrived, the fen had the situation under control. One mundane was grabbed by Vulcan Ambassador T'Rom, who is almost two metres tall . . . with cloak, ears, etc. He stays perfectly in character and lectures the mundane drunk, "Fighting is not Logical. . . ."
The other mundane was grabbed by a very large Klingon in flamboyant costume. He stayed in character: "Today is a good day to die!" The Klingon gentleman was also over six feet tall.
The situation was well under control when hotel security arrived and recovered sufficiently from ROFL.
-- Doug Drummond (on DucKon II)
Local fen have, for whatever reason, become less clubbable and more convention-al during the past couple of decades. Mike Jencevice gives a sketch of Queen to Queen’s Three, one of the few enduring Chicagoland clubs, and there are a couple of entertaining pieces on DucKon, the area’s newest convention. Sadly, nobody sent in anything about Capricon.
Being the Keeper of the Windycon Archives, Marcy has in her garage an abundance of rara et obscura, which she displayed at Chicon and occasionally drags out for Windycon. She hints in her introduction that she may be amenable to putting out a 6 in 60 number 2. Pester her until she does.