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The First UK Worldcon

Rob Hansen (editor)

ISBN 978-1-913451-88-2

Rob Hansen has compiled this history of the 1957 London Worldcon from contemporary fanzine accounts, so that once again the complex story emerges from the participants’ own words. The action stretches over several years, from the initial inspiration to bring Worldcon to the UK, via the fan politics of promoting and winning the bid, to detailed coverage of the convention itself – and its aftermath, including a lawsuit.

The cover photo by Peter West shows the three Hugo Awards that were presented, held by E.J. (Ted) Carnell, editor of New Worlds (best British prozine), John W. Campbell Jr, editor of Astounding (best American prozine), and John Victor Peterson representing Science-Fiction Times (best fanzine, formerly Fantasy Times).

First published as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 1 June 2022. Updated 5 June 2022 to add a new Appendix with the complete official convention programme schedule; some further additions were made in July 2023. 68,500 words.

1957: The First UK Worldcon was the winner in the Best Special Publication category of the Fanzine Activity Achievement (FAAn) Awards presented in 2023, where Rob Hansen also received the FAAn Award for Lifetime Achievement.

By popular request a printed paperback edition is also available: click here for more.

From Rob Hansen’s Foreword

So why the 1957 Worldcon? Because it was a singularly significant and important event in the history of fandom. Not only was it the first Worldcon to be held outside North America, it was in many ways the first true world convention, pulling in as it did fans from more countries than had ever attended a single convention before. It was also the first time that UK and US fans met en masse. Yes, a handful of US and Canadian fans had been posted to the UK while serving in their armed forces during WW2, contacting local fans while over here, but these meetings had been individual and sporadic. And in terms of legacy, LONCON started the tradition of there being a British Worldcon once every calendar decade (1957, 1965, 1979, 1987, 1995, 2005, 2014, 2024). That’s three in London, three in Glasgow, and two in Brighton, with the longest gap between Worldcons being fourteen years, and the shortest being eight.

As well as firsts, the 1957 Worldcon is also notable as a last, being the final SF convention held before the start of the Space Age: Sputnik launched a few weeks afterwards.