TAFF Talk 9

TAFF TALK NINE: This is the bulletin which was going to appear with (or after) the actual 1981-2 TAFF ballot. Well, well, think of that. Another Transatlantic Fan Fund Bulletin from Euro-administrator Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Ave, Reading, Berks, RG2 7PW, UK. Opinions on TAFF are mine alone; I haven't heard from US Administrator Stu Shiffman (19 Broadway Terrace #11), New York, NY 10040, USA) since June. Is there anybody out there? Aug/Sept 81.

The TAFF kitty is still just fine, and, amazingly, we actually have some candidates. These are Rog Peyton (whose last bits and pieces are due in any second now) and Kevin Smith (who's been taking advantage of the delay to send in revised bits and pieces, like nomination platforms). I hoped to get the ballot out, but there has been a teensy delay while Rog's US nominators get their official Word through to me. (Roz Kaveney, meanwhile, has added her name to the long and starstudded list of those who nearly stood for TAFF this year but at the last moment decided not to.)

Duncan Lunan's cut-rate goods (last Taff Talk) attracted some attention from fans, all of whom wanted the Jupiter poster. It will thus come as no surprise that this poster sold out before my bulk order could be put in -- all those who sent money for this can decide what to do with, their unexpected credit here. Undeterred, Duncan offers discounted copies of his New Worlds for Old to you at £2.50 with 20% going to TAFF -- but beware! postage would be £1.10 per copy unless you arrange to collect yours from me somewhere. (List price is £6.95, by the way.) Expressions of interest should be sent in before, say, November.

Greg Pickersgill has Views about TAFF, and has made them known in Stop Breaking Down 7. Good for him, because nobody else seems to discuss the fund out loud -- not in any way which is to the point, as evidenced by a stultifying Noreascon panel which merely unearthed the dead issue of weighted votes (the sending country should have more say because they know the candidates; the receiving country should have more say because they've got to put up with the results; and so on) -- happily coming to no conclusion whatever. Greg says, roughly, that TAFF should be wound up because (a) anyone can afford to go without the fund; (b) from the UK viewpoint, real contact with US fandom can't be made in the swarming masses of a Worldcon; (c) people aren't interested in standing any more; (d) there aren't any deserving candidates anyway.

Administrators traditionally act like the Royal Family etc, and keep their mouths shut, but I don't see why. There are two answers to (a), being firstly that this claim sounds like mere selfishness on the part of such property-owning middle-class fans as Langford or Pickersgill: more and more people are poor each year, more and more are unemployed, and if the next Great White Hope of Britfandom is chronically on the dole I'm sure he/she will be glad to learn TAFF has been cancelled because nobody could possibly find a US holiday expensive. OK, I exaggerate, but... um, a fannish means test? Second comes the Mike Glicksohn Theory of TAFF Prestige, occasionally interpreted as meaning Mike wants to stand one day despite previous visits here: this essentially proposes that TAFF is a triffic accolade to be sought after, irrespective of finance. Certainly it's the last international honour to be voted by 'real' fandom -- the fan Hugos not excepted.

Point (b) is a good one, if Anglocentric. It was annoying to find that Noreascon's hugeness had kept away many fans I wanted to meet, and that others were present yet managed to elude me in the teeming millions all weekend long. There's a case for the proposal mooted a few years back, that TAFF should switch to one of the slightly more fannish and less Torrent of Faces-like US conventions, and discussion here is welcome. Note, though, that this doesn't (yet) apply to TAFF trips from There to Here, which are surely worthy of some consideration... a point also to be made about Greg's item (c), the claim of general apathy. There are no fewer than four Americans eager to come and see us in 1983. I'd like to think that apathy at our end is merely the continued after-effects of the post-Seacon slump, and that the stunning new talent we hear about will shortly get it together -- likewise those stunning old talents who spend their time moaning about the lack of new ones. Pause, incidentally, for argumentum ad hominem: We might have had a bit less ultimate TAFF apathy this time around if various fannish notables had not helped frighten off the competition by announcing their candidacy, only to drop out rather too late in the day.

Finally -- (d) -- are there any deserving candidates? No answer from me -- I'm supposed to be impartial here, remember. (Despite what Greg seems to think, I haven't even put the arm on potential candidates -- merely issued general pleas like Taff Talk 8.) As in (a), there are two answers, and the first is almost the same: even if there should be no-one worthy this time, what about next time? A thirty-year-old tradition (yay, yay, the Good Old Days) isn't easy to kill off, but it'll be even less easy to revive it after a break in continuity. But the second answer is the clincher here: what do you think the Hold Over Funds slot is for? The TAFF voters are not, I hope, the mindless hordes who crowd the Hugo balloting; they are, or should be, reasonably intelligent fans, and if they share Greg's doubts they should bloody well come out and vote for Hold Over Funds.

Since HOF polled only two votes in the last TAFF race; and likewise in the one before, the inference might be that Greg's dissatisfaction isn't (wasn't) that widespread. Obviously there is some self-interest on the part of the loathsome administrators -- I at least have no special wish to be the one who kills off the thirty-year TAFF tradition (besides, even if you think TAFF is ailing, it might well be a cunning wheeze to work a little at a cure before sending for the humane killer). But if HOF actually started to get, and went on getting, a sizeable proportion of the vote, then I think we should be worried.

This rambling consideration of this and that is appearing here in defiance of etiquette, I suppose. Suddenly I felt I wanted to mumble right here and right now rather than do the decent thing by sending it in as a letter of comment on Stop Breaking Down. Sorry, Greg. Sorry, Linda...