Out of This World Convention

by Forrest J. Ackerman

Public Domain

Science Fiction Story: An eye-witness account of the 14th World Science Fiction Convention in session.

Tags: Science Fiction   Novel-Classic  

I was a spy for the FBI--the Fantasy Bureau of Investigation! Learning of a monster meeting of science fiction “fen” in New York, I teleported myself 3,000 miles from the Pacificoast to check the facts on the monsters. And it was true--the 14th World SciFi Con was tremonstrous.

In all seriousness, the Newyorcon was one of the greatest aggregations of s.f. enthusiasts I have ever seen. A far cry from the Nycon, the first “world” s.f. con of 17 years before, when the turnout of 125 was considered colossal. Now more than twelve hundred fans, authors, editors, artists, publishers, agents, anthologists, reviewers and readers of science fiction and fantasy registered for the Labor Day Weekend gathering of the clans, a conclave of the slans.

From 37 of the 48 states they came. And from Canada, Cuba, England, Germany, India, Israel and the West Indies. The roll call of celebrities read like the Who’s Who of S.F. Prodom: Theodore Sturgeon, Isaac Asimov, Fritz Leiber, Willy Ley, Nelson Bond, John W. Campbell Jr., L. Sprague de Camp, James Blish, Judith Merril, “Ted” Carnell (Editor of New Worlds), Kelly Freas, Edmond Hamilton, Leigh Brackett, Anthony Boucher, William Tenn, James E. Gunn, Frank Belknap Long Jr., and numerous others, including Guest of Honor Arthur C. Clarke.

A standing ovation was given Arthur Clarke before and after his speech at the Banquet, a serious address that lasted forty-five minutes and covered many philosophical facets of the s.f. field. Especially rousing hands were given two of the real old-timers present, artist Frank R. Paul (Guest of Honor of the first Convention), and--out of the Ark--the man who once was an assistant to Thomas Alva Edison, the pioneer novelist of scientific romances and the man who discovered the Golden Atom--Ray Cummings. World famous cartoonist Al Capp gave a hilarious speech at the Banquet Sunday night, other large laughs being garnered on the occasion by Isaac Asimov and Anthony Boucher, Robert Bloch again proving that he has no peer as a Master of Ceremonies.

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