Newsletter of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund
I find it hard to believe that it's been nearly two years since Paul Kincaid took the fateful phonecall and came to inform me that I'd won the TAFF race and would be going to Bucconeer, and on to the biggest adventure of my life. After three wonderful months travelling round the USA, visiting as many fans as I possibly could, doing all sorts of really cool things, coming home to a particularly vile English winter didn't much for my peace of mind, and it's taken all of 1999 and a second trip to America earlier this year to put the experience into some sort of perspective. People warned me that making the TAFF trip would change me but while it's one thing to be warned, it's another to experience the full enormity of what that means; and the longer the trip, the more intense the experience too, believe me (and that's something I will probably talk about at greater length in my trip report, which is proceeding slowly, but it is happening). Never explain, never apologise, goes the rubric, but I think its important that people know why I've been uncharacteristically quiet this last little while, why there have been no zines, little in the way of newsletters.
This newsletter comprises two things: a digest of news and also a small potpourri of writing from the three current candidates (in emulation of Paul Kincaid's splendid work on Guffaw,) for those of you not familiar with their work.
The TAFF 2000 race is drawing to its climax, the voting deadline is midnight on 6th May, 2000.
TAFF ballots and newsletters will be available at this year's Eastercon, 2Kon in Glasgow. I, however, won't be, but Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer have kindly offered to act as hero distributors and couriers. So, for those of you who want to vote right there and then, during the convention, Mark and Claire will be happy to receive your ballots and money and put them in the envelopes they've taken for just that purpose. I've asked them to check with you that your contact details are filled out properly and that you've enclosed two pounds with your ballot (though more money is always welcome), just to save me having to chase you for money or information later, but the rest, as they say, is between you and the ballot envelope.
I've been sorting out the boxes of material that have accumulated here in the last year, for auction and for sale. The next newsletter will contain a full list of everything I've got available here, for TAFF, and I'll be collaborating with the GUFF administrator, Paul Kincaid, to produce a list of everything he has available for GUFF.
For now, though, let me tell you that I still have some copies of Martin Tudor's TAFF report. Have Bag, Will Travel, available at £5 or $8 each, post free. You will recall that Martin wrote most of his trip report while he was doing his trip and that it was distributed by the Birmingham SF Group on his behalf.
For completists, who'd like the individual pieces, I've a set of masters here and a photocopier, so for a suitable donation to TAFF, could be prevailed upon to provide copies of these as well. And some of you may not know that the final section of Martin's trip report actually appeared in the programme book for Intuition, the 1998 Eastercon (Martin was Fan GOH at Intuition), and it just so happens I also have copies of the programme book available, for £5 or $8 each. Actually, if I say so myself (I edited it), the programme book is a fine piece of work, with articles about all three guests of honour, Martin, Connie Willis and Ian McDonald, and pieces by them, as well as an excellent article by Ulrika O'Brien, TAFF delegate to that convention, and many other articles about science fiction and fandom.
Cheques should be made payable to 'Maureen Speller'. Dollar cheques are acceptable as I now have a US bank account.
Also available, from Ron Bennett, who travelled to South Gate, California, as TAFF delegate in 1958 (the year before I was born) is his trip report, Colonial Excursion. It's extremely readable and very entertaining; what particularly struck me was how some aspects of America just haven't changed at all in those forty years, or else Ron and I share the same twisted perceptions of the world. Anyway, do yourselves a favour and rush a fiver to Ron forthwith, at 36 Harlow Park Crescent, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG2 OAW
I'm not certain whether the list of TAFF votes in the 1997 and 1998 races were ever published; I'd rather risk duplication than have them not see the light of day at all, so here they are:
Tom Abba, Michael Abbott, Justin Ackroyd, Jennie Albinson, Paul Allwood, Chris Amies, Sarah Ash, John Ashbrook, K V Bailey, Amanda Baker, Cherith Baldry. Paul Barnett, David V Barrett, Andrew Barton, Kate Soley Barton, Chris Bell, Rowan Bell, Tony Berry, Elizabeth Billinger, Paul Billinger, Pamela Boal, Sandra Bond, Robbie Bourget, Simon Bradshaw, Claire Brialey, Tanya Brown, E D Buckley, Peter Burton West, Andrew M Butler, KIM Campbell, Avedon Carol, Mike Cheater, Ken Cheslin, David W Clark, Cat Coast, Eddie Cochrane, Jack Cohen, Richard Coleman, Noel Collyer, Alison Cook, Dave Cox, Chris Croughton, A Cruttenden, Tony Cullen, Benedict Cullum, Kenneth M Dalglish, Gary S Dalkin, John Dallman, Steve Davies, Guy & Sue Dawson, Lilian Edwards, Sue Edwards, Doug Faunt, Tommy Ferguson, Mike Ford, Susan Francis, Alison Freebairn, Steve Glover, Michael Glyer, Victor Gonzalez, Simon Grant, Roy Gray, Ann & Steve Green, Judith Hanna, Rob Hansen, Bridget Hardcastle, John Harold, Alun Harries, C R & Sue Harris, Lesley E Hatch, Julian Headlong, Richard Hewison, Dave Hicks, Douglas Hill, Dave Holmes, Tom Holt, Valerie Housden, Tim Illingworth, Rhodri James, Steve Jeffery, Sue Jones, Christina Lake, David Langford, Eira Latham, Alice & Steve Lawson, Erhard Leder, Frank Lunney, Meredith Macardle, Ian Maugham, Catherine McAulay, Mark McCann, James McKee, Pat McMurray, John & Yvonne Meaney, Melusine, Farah Mendlesohn, Perry Middlemiss, Cheryl Morgan, Chris Morgan, Carol & Tony Morton, Caroline Mullan, Chris Murphy, Janice Murray, Joseph Nicholas, Phil Nicholls, Ulrika O'Brien, John Ollis, Omega, Simon Ounsley, Arwell Parry, Spike Parsons, Harry Payne, Bruce Pelz, Greg Pickersgill, Derek Pickles, Phil Plumby [sic: Plumbly?], Mark Plummer, Anetta & Pekka Pirinen, Andrew Porter, Chris Priest, Dave Redd, Peter Redfarn, Patricia & Trevor Reynolds, J F W Richards, John D Rickett, Roger Robinson, Mic Rogers, Yvonne Rousseau, Marcus L Rowland, Alison Scott, Mike Scott, Cas & Paul Skelton, Andy Sawyer, Moira Shearman, D M Sherwood, Linda Shipman, Pat Silver, Cyril Simsa, Patrick John Smith, S.M.S., Michael Spiller, Andrew Stephenson, David Stewart, Geri Sullivan, Bryan & Mary Talbot, Ian & Kathy Taylor, Jennifer Tibbetts, Dave Tompkins, Jim Trash, Paul Treadaway, Frances Tucker, Nancy Tucker Shaw, Colin Tuckley, Martin Tudor, Harry Turner, Jan van 't Ent, Peter Wareham, Pam Wells, Janet Wilkins, Madeline & Walt Willis, Alan Woodford, Ben Yalow, Tobes Valois.
In the next newsletter, I'll bring us right up to date with the UK voters for the 1999 and 2000 TAFF votes, and everything will be tidy.
This represents the state of play as of 31/12/99, with the account looking sufficiently healthy to see a TAFF delegate to the US and back without any difficulty, but more money is always welcome, of course. The next TAFF newsletter (to be published as soon after 6/5/00 as is humanly possible) will bring the accounts right up to date.
Money passed over by Martin Tudor (in total) 1180.00 MKS airfare -521.00 Receipts from auctions at Novacon (1998) 203.70 -- Eastercon (1999) 92.00 -- and Seccon (1999) 12.00 (courtesy of Christopher Priest) 13.50 Voting money from TAFF 119.00 Donations from Sue Jones, Tony Cullen, Fred Smith, John Dallman, Tobes de Valois 31.00 Sale of Deluxe collected Snufkin Goes West (courtesy of Mark Plummer and Claire Brialey) 42.00 (Australian donations) 7.00 Spending money for Vijay Bowen -250.00 Sale of assorted booklets 10.00 Mark Plummer 12.50 Bonds 30.00 Martin Tudor (trip reports) 25.00 Novacon 1999 book/fan auction 72.00 Dave Langford (assorted sales) 12.47 Total (to end of 1999) 1091.17
Taffkin's's Bum is produced for TAFF by: Maureen Kincaid Speller 60 Bournemouth Road, Folkestone, Kent, CT19 5AZ, UK email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Taffkin's Bum Supplement
This is actually Paul Kincaid's fault. When he stood for GUFF (the Get Under Fan Fund, TAFF's Antipodean counterpart) he persuaded the other candidates to collaborate on a zine, Guffaw. After he won, he determined to keep the zine going to promote GUFF. Neat idea, I thought, as I watched the umpteenth page emerge from the photocopier, and asked all the TAFF candidates to contribute something for a similar zine for TAFF.
Now I will admit that it didn't turn out quite as I'd expected, as they all chose to talk in greater detail about what standing for TAFF means to them rather than contributing general fan articles, but no matter. The important thing is that you have three authentic fan voices on paper, talking about fandom and their participation in it. And that, for me, is what TAFF is about, about participating in fandom, about bringing different areas of fandom into conversation with one another.
If any of you want to take up the conversation, air your views on TAFF, on fan funds, on fandom in general, feel free to write to me and we can continue the discussion in the next TB Supplement.
For now, I commend to you three fine TAFF candidates.
TAFF epitomises all the reasons I got involved with fandom in the first place. It is a bunch of people getting together, chucking in their own money, time and effort to help foster relations with a bunch of other people. In America this would be called the height of liberal attitudes, here in the UK it is simply called a community. The welcome I got when I first joined fandom from a range of people like Walt Willis, Vince Clarke and Arthur Thompson is what has kept in fandom for over 15 years now and is one of the reasons I am standing for TAFF this year.
This is not because I desperately want to go to the Chicago WorldCon, well not entirely at least; I've never been to any WorldCon. I running for TAFF to show how much it means to the fannish community that we all live in. What happens at cons with TAFF auctions illustrates just what people feel, not just for TAFF -- it certainly has its detractors -- but for what it represent in fandom. An honoured tradition that may be too old in the teeth, but which still represents what it was that drew most of us to fandom in the first place. That is why you see normally sane people like Vince Doherty bidding extraordinary amounts of money for any old tat that Rog Peyton happens to find in his pocket. It is also why you see a Catholic reactionary like myself prancing around an EasterCon in fishnet stockings and a skirt which the PLOKTA crew captured so well (http://www.plokta.com/plokta/issue14/vijay.htm).
TAFF is never really about the candidates. By dint of the fact they have been able to get nominators and put themselves forward for the ballot it can safely be said that they are suitable candidates. It is a rare race where you can justifiably vote for no candidate or hold over the funds. The race itself gives fandom the opportunity to reassert it's very nature. By printing articles like this, by campaigning at conventions by sending out ballot forms themselves we are continuing the very traditions by which we live. A good race is one where there are a number of candidates who are actively campaigning -- it is all grist to the fannish mill: more fanzines, more articles more discussion -- more life in -- page -- the old dog yet.
This is not a rose tinted spectacle look at TAFF though -- my mother only raised one stupid son. Abigail Frost has done innumerable damage to the TAFF tradition. A huge amount of goodwill and positive spirit about TAFF, and indeed fandom as a whole, was lost when she abdicated her responsibilities and bogged off without a word to anyone. I think it is the role of the current and forthcoming administrators to build on the good work of Martin Tudor and Ulrika O'Brien to get TAFF back to where it belongs.
One way of doing this, which I'm in favour of, is to let the candidates choose the convention they wish to attend. WorldCons are not the first choice of mnany fans these days as they become huge and unwieldy for one person to get around. The role of the TAFF candidate at WorldCons becomes even harder as they try and spread the good word of fandom to people who simply could not give a toss. The idea of a TAFF candidate attending a Corflu or NovaCon for example, where there is more fannish spirit present, attendances are much lower and a candidate can get to meet all the people who voted for him or her or took part in the race. If I win the TAFF race I will argue for this change for the following race, as I've already undertaken a commitment to attend the Chicago WorldCon when my nomination was accepted.
Another idea, building on from Martin Tudor's candidacy, is to try and bring TAFF into the electronic age. I have said elsewhere that it would be my intention to complete an electronic diary whilst on my visit. This would enable all those who took part in the TAFF Campaign to follow my adventures on a daily basis, see what I got up to and who I met. This would also provide an invaluable reference for myself when I come to write up my trip report, which, as part of my platform, I have promised by the end of 2000. In this way those fans and people who are part of the electronic age, be it via web sites, electronic zines or newsgroups, can also get an idea of what TAFF is about and why it needs to be supported and help to grow again.
It is ideas like this that will help to re-invigorate TAFF as a fannish tradition, help move it forward and keep it alive. It is only by the actions of fans themselves that TAFF will stay alive and continue to have the relevance to today's generation of fans that it did to previous generations of fans. I'm taking part in the race, in the campaigning and support of TAFF because it represents the essence of what fandom is. I don't want that vitality to fade away.
I want not only to take part and promote TAFF but also the fandom it represents.
What I do
I don't do writing.
Well, not much, anyway.
In part that has something to do with my dyslexia. It's not serious, I can read okay but my spelling is, shall we say, a little on the... creative side -- I treasure forever the school report which reads "Susan has the widest vocabulary in the school, it's a pity she can't spell any of it." And I can't tell left from right. Which has lead to amusing incidents over the years, such as losing a con committee in the darkest depths of Lancaster ("Right here, no! No! Your other right.") and the great Morris Dancing fiasco at Confabulation ("Left, left. No, your other left.") Technology makes my life easier, the red squiggly line is my friend and constant companion and speil chekurs are an absolute life saver.
What I do is draw.
I've always drawn things. My school books might have been illegible but they were beautifully illustrated. When I went to my first convention in 1982, I entered the art show. Mythcon in Birmingham, a small fantasy themed convention with, if I recall, Anne McCaffrey as guest. It was a wonderful convention, as your first con always should be. It was all so fresh and new. I was nineteen; young, sweet, innocent, never been kissed. I have many fond memories; wearing my night-dress on Saturday night as I didn't have a costume. Going out for a meal with a whole bunch of men I'd never met before, includling Bryan Talbot. Discovering happy hour in the bar with Mike the Bastard and Eric who later became the Samurai Wookies and Gytha with the Brighton Vikings in the ballroom with a barrel of beer and a firkin of mead. Killer in the corridors way, way past my bedtime. All the usual fannish delights were new and sparking and there to be explored. And I got chatted up by Steve Green.
Then there was the art show. I won 'Best newcomer' and they gave me a pen engraved with the convention details. I still have it, it lives in the sock drawer, to keep it safe. Someone took a photo of me receiving the pen. I still have that too, I look incredibly young and fluffy and happy and it was all a great introduction to fandom.
The con running fraternity were the first to discover that I would draw for my supper. I designed the Follycon Fool in 1986. That was a wonderful design. He got passed on to lots of other worthy artists such as SMS and they added to him, changed him, improved him but underneath it all was my fool and he was a great logo for a great con. The con committee each had a door plaque with the fool pyrographed on it and I still go into fannish houses today and see him hanging on walls and I'm still proud of him.
The 1987 Worldcon programme book has fillos by me in there, I did covers for filkbooks and tapes but fanzine fandom hadn't yet discovered me.
I think that fanzines are the most fun when you know those involved, at least on paper if not in the flesh and for about the first ten years of my fannish Career, I was running with a different sort to the fanzine crowd. Oh, they might have written fannishly as well but for the most part I was hanging around with the filkers and costumers and gamers and dealers. I still do, they are fans, after all and that makes them my kind of people; but at some point fannish fandom and I crossed paths. This was the days before I had a computer and speil chekur and there was no way I was bold enough or bright enough to write for fanzines but then I discovered that I had a talent fan-eds would kill for. I could draw. Not only that, I could draw illustrations to order and on time. The amount of post into my house increased dramatically.
I'm not the best artist in the pool or the funniest -- I grovel humbly at the feet of masters like D. West or ATom -- but I'm a gifted doodler and I get the job done and usually the fan editor gets the illustration they asked for. Usually. Though not always, we shall draw a discreet veil over the zombie Dachshund with vorpal machine gun. Machine gun... sword... it's a simple mistake anyone could make. I like to be set a specific image to draw rather than being left to mny own devices. Left to myself I have a distressing tendency to draw cute elf boys, foaming maned unicorns and women with unfeasibly large cleavages. Editors send me articles to illustrate and there is usually something in there which fires my imagination. Some of them can be quite specific in what they ask for and I like the challenge. Though 'a moose in a nun's habit skipping across the Austrian Tyrol, with eidelweiss' was a little on the difficult side, particularly as it was a badge design about 3 inches across. For some completely deranged reason, which totally now escapes me, Confabulation, the 1995 Eastercon had a moose as its logo. I was on the committee for Confab and I can't remember why it was a moose (other than Alison Scott insisting that it was the ideal convention animal for London Docklands) and I'd never drawn a moose before then. Never drawn one since, either. Bloody stupid looking animal. I got to be quite good at them and the convention t-shirt was really good, but I'd been drawing the dratted animal for a couple of years by then. Some of the early moose pictures in the con publications are a bit strange. Sort of like overweight unicorns.
Well, eventually fanzine fandom became used to seeing my stuff around. I remember when I first went to Novacon having to rack my brain to think of six fanzines I'd received during the year so I could vote in the Novas. Now I get dozens, from both sides of the Atlantic. It's great. In '97 I won the Nova as Fan Artist and I won it again this year, 1999. I've never been so proud as when I weaved my way through the seething throng of Novacon attendees. The Novas mean so much because these are your peers giving you the accolade, the people you drink in the bar with, the editors you curse for giving you such a short deadline, or for wanting a lovingly crafted fillo to fit in a space about one inch square. Or wanting moose.
It's seventeen years since I went up to collect that pen for Best Newcomer. There have been a lot of conventions, fanzines, beer and fillos under the bridge since then. I no longer look young and fluffy. I'm still happy. But I won't draw any more moose.
Well Bugger me
So then I'm standing for TAFF. Well bugger me. I first heard about TAFF four years ago, at my first Eastercon, although I had discovered fandom exactly 2 years previously and had been to 4 cons including the British Worldcon. Since then I've always voted in the various fan funds, although at first I had to put down a name of someone who knew me, as the administrator would not have known who the fuck I was. How things have changed. I'm impressed to get ballot forms directly from the administrators, and now I find myself actually nominated for TAFF, much to my surprise. I'm honoured and slightly overwhelmed by it all as I was at Novacon when my good Swedish friends Anders Holmstrom and Lennart Uhlin told me about it. Which brings up an important point which is that TAFF is European rather than British to America. Of course it's usually (always?) won by somebody British, which is fair enough as (at least as far as I know) the largest and most well established of European fandoms. I am British myself and a proud card carrying member of the BSFA. However much of my support is coming from non-British European fans, the above mentioned Swedes whose idea it all was in the first place and especially Irish fandom. Irish fandom is a young smallish fandom that deserves more support particularly from British fandom. James Bacon has asked me to give a talk at this years Octocon, the Irish National Con and is campaigning enthusiastically on my behalf. Thanks, James. With respect to my fellow nominees, I intend to campaign hard and win, and if I win I can assure you that I will take the honour seriously, and have a hell of a lot of fun whilst doing so. I'd really like to get to know American fans and encourage them to buy Robert Rankin books ('cos he's great, and I owe him a favour).