Dave Kyle's Chicon IV Reminiscence

1982Chicon IV, Chicago
A Reminiscence by Dave Kyle
From the Noreascon Three PB

My black badge holder reads "Chicon IV Chicago, 1982, The 40th World Science Fiction Convention, Member No. 430." Attached to it are six ribbons of six different colors proclaiming me to be a Program participant, a Dealer — and a "Veteran" of four Chicons. The pale green one, the biggest one, has golden lettering informing the world(con) that I am an "S F Dinosaur, Chicon4, 40th Anniversary." Those of us who had attended all four were gathered together one evening on that Labor Day weekend for a nostalgic reunion. By the Great Ghu Klono, there were sure a lot of us still around! So many, in fact, that at this moment I can't recall them all.

As a matter of fact, as I start to write this, I can hardly remember anything about Chicon IV. It was so BIG. Or maybe I should say I remember too many things from so many Chicons and others. My impressions from year to year are becoming more and more kaleidoscopic. Fortunately I have the Program Book and the pocket program to refresh my memory.

The Chicon IV Program Book was one of the best published. It is filled with many pertinent articles, lists of things, data (such as the special Hugo and Achievement Awards of the past not usually mentioned), and the Campbell and Gandalf Award winners. There are the detailed hotel contract agreement, the constitution of the World Science Fiction Society, old business and new business items for the WSFS meeting, and standing rules to govern the con. The pocket program was a complicated thing, printed in tiny type, and packed with information, difficult to decipher, but absolutely essential to follow the action and thus prevent complete frustration and hour by hour insanity.

This Chicon had three or four (sometimes five) tracks, different program events going on at the same time. Wow! No wonder nowadays some old-timers hole themselves up in a room and talk about the yesterdays or walk the lobby and visit and rarely get to any program.

Of all the many guests of honor over the years, this year's author Guest of Honor was only the sixth non-American writer chosen: A. Bertram Chandler, an Australian Englishman (or vice versa). There was also an artist Guest of Honor, the Hugo-winning Frank Kelly Freas, only the third professional sf artist ever picked, although several Fan Guests were well-known as artists. The practice of having multiple Guests of Honor is not common. Some husband and wife teams have been chosen once in awhile, such as A.E. van Vogt & E. Mayne Hull, Leigh Brackett & Edmond Hamilton, and Damon Knight & Kate Wilhelm. The unrelated others number three pros at Heicon 1970 (Heidelberg, W. Germany), two at Seacon '79 (Brighton, U.K.), two more at Denvention Two 1981 (Denver), and six (!) at Conspiracy 1987 (Brighton, U.K.) (who, however, included two Soviet brothers).

By now, conventions were often officially opening on Thursday, as this one did with several tracks of programming. At least three solid tracks ran during the day on Friday, with the Guest of Honor speeches that evening. Limited by the Hyatt Regency's space, the committee took the unusual action of issuing 2,500 tickets for the "Masquerade" (the misnomer for the costume parade & contest) and 3,000 tickets for the Hugo Awards. With a registered attendance of 4,275 (the anticipation was for a possible 7,000), I heard no widespread grumbling from disappointed fans who missed the events.

On all five (!) days there were many "special interest programs" with about everything imaginable happening (How about the "Lawyer's Seminar" — four one-hour presentations "designed for rich Dirty Old Pros and other interested writer/artist folks"?! Or the "Space Industrialization Symposium"?!). There were maybe a dozen sessions identified as the "Academic Track." An "Exhibits Division" featured standing displays from film companies, NASA, and companies that specialized in hard science and science and technology. Home computer exhibitors were especially popular. The British TAFF and the Australian DUFF delegates were properly honored (The Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund and the Down Under Fan Fund). And there was the Burroughs Bibliophiles' Dum Dum luncheon on Sunday noon. (September the 1st was the 107th birthday of Edgar Rice Burroughs, who was born in Chicago.)

A very special independent event was held within the Chicon event. On Friday at 12:30 was the "First Annual Gernsback Awards Ceremony" with Forrest J Ackerman as Master of Ceremonies. A "blue ribbon panel" from the First Fandom ranks (several dozen "big names" and a few "small names" like me) nominated and chose the best science fiction in the years of 1926, 1936, and 1946 in various categories. This idea was to acknowledge the contributions that had been made in days when there were no "Hugos" being given. The actual Gernsback Trophy was sculpted to duplicate the original Gernsback Publications Logo, a hand-held torch with lightning flashes. How appropriate it was that thirty years before, at Chicon II, the Guest of Honor was Hugo Gernsback himself.