Lloyd Arthur Eshbach's Denvention Two Reminiscence

1981Denvention II, Denver
by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach
From the Noreascon Three PB

For me the 39th World Science Fiction Convention, Denvention II, will always be people: C.L. Moore and Clifford Simak in particular.

I had read "Shambleau," the famous and classic first story by Catherine Moore, when it first appeared in Weird Tales in 1933, and when everyone thought the writer was a man. It had impressed me most favorably, and I had followed her writings up to and through her merger (the correct term) with Henry Kuttner. And to meet her after almost a half century — charming, lovely — was a genuine thrill.

Clifford Simak — somewhere, sometime in the past I had met Cliff; and at Denvention II I sat beside him on a platform as part of a panel. After we had greeted each other, he asked, "Where have you been all these years?" He was referring to my two-decade absence from the SF field. We were contemporaries, our early stories having appeared in the same publications in the 1930s. Now he was famous, deservedly so, and I was forgotten. But it was fun, picking up threads laid down so long ago.

Then there was Rusty Hevelin. I believe we met in Philadelphia at PSFS meetings; not in the 1930s, obviously, since he discovered science fiction in 1941; but probably in the late '40s in the Fantasy Press days, when I visited Philadelphia quite frequently. We've met time and again over the years and are still good friends.

Other people at the Denvention weekend come to mind. Don Grant, who has been my friend for more than thirty years, introduced me to C.J. Cherryh. She was at the Grant booth with her brother David; and I made the horrible mistake of referring to him as her son! I can only claim temporary insanity and impaired vision, for obviously, she is his younger sister. I finally apologized to her at Nolacon II last year.

Also among the people who made the convention a success for me were old-timers — and others not-so-old — like Jack Williamson, Bob Tucker, Forry Ackerman, Bob Silverberg, Fred Pohl, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, Julian May, Hal Clement, and others I learned to know in later years. Without question, it was "old home week."

Needless to say, things happened at Denvention II. There were Guest of Honor speeches; special events including the Hugo Award presentations and the Masquerade; a Pro Discussion Group series; writers' autograph sessions; films ancient and current; panel discussions, both serious and otherwise. (One called "Groin Pains," which I missed, has left me wondering.) And of course there was the usual huckster room.

There was also an art display which was up to the usual high standards of Worldcons. Oddly, only one feature sticks in my memory — a most unorthodox creation. This was a city of the future, beautifully carved out of the interior of a huge block of lucite. Its creator, a personable young man named R. A. Murray, also claimed to have been in communication with an advanced civilization in a distant galaxy. He seemed to be serious.

Oddly, I cannot recall any parties at Denvention II. Surely this time-honored tradition was followed in Denver. Even though programming went on until midnight every day but the last, it is inconceivable that everything ground to a halt at one o'clock in the morning. I must have been staying at the wrong hotel. The Executive Tower Inn (where I stayed) was a block away from the Convention Center, but nine blocks from the Hilton. Oh well, at age 71 I needed the uninterrupted sleep.