Today’s Favorite V1N1 Magazine – and a Word About Chengdu

I’ll get to the magazine in a second, but first I have to address the latest news regarding the 2023 Worldcon, taking place in Chengdu, China.

File770 reports (Item 1) that there is now an announcement from what appears to be a Chinese-based “Ticketmaster” that it will be selling “tickets” to the Chengdu Worldcon.

Now, that may be translation confusion.  Its possible that what is really meant are “memberships” (and I’ll take a line or two to reinforce the distinction here:  real, fan-run, traditional conventions are NOT commercial propositions.  They are not operated and promoted in order to earn some company a profit.  They are in-gatherings of like-minded individuals with a shared interest, who get together to celebrate that shared interest.  No one is paid to attend.  No one is paid to work.  No one stands on a line for autographs after forking over dollars.  There is some limited commercial activity – authors, artists and agents work out deals with editors and  publishers; artists sell their work in the art show, Dealers set up tables and offer books, ephemera, games, and adjacent products (stuffed creatures, jewelry, teas), there are sometimes fund-raising auctions.  But the primary goal of the convention is not to extract money from people wishing to be entertained.  The primary goal is to get together.)

However, the following line in the description from the link seems to pretty much eliminate that possibility

“…this World Science Fiction Convention will no longer be a platform for core sci-fi fans and sci-fi writers to exchange ideas, but instead, most of the participants will be the general public…”

Time: 2023.10.18-10.22
Venue: Chengdu | Chengdu Science (Science Fiction) Museum
Now it seems that the Worldcon is no longer “Worldcon”, but has become the loss-leader in the promotion of the museum.  Or a way to cover up a potential lack of (western) attendance, as has been suggested by the numerous prominent fans announcing their intentions to stay away.
Early on in the development of this fiasco, I stated that it was my belief that Chengdu was not really being run by Chinese Fans, who I was careful not to hold accountable for this circumstance, but was, instead, a tool being used by the Chinese government to “con wash” human rights abuses and further its intentions to use science fiction for the purposes of social engineering.  And here we are.

“Science Fiction” is becoming increasingly politicized as it moves from special interest to pop-culture mainstay (its imagery anyway, certainly not its core fandom).  That’s inevitable as soon as something with an identifiable market begins to earn dollars.  Fans can either go along with that shift and assist in the further erosion of the Fannish aspects of the genre as we know it, or they can choose to bolster their commitment to maintaining traditional fannish ideals, within their own community.

To accomplish that, to maintain an island of traditional fandom within a sea of commercialism and politicization, Fandom must become more skeptical of outside involvement.  It mustn’t shy away from all outside influences, but it must remember that its core values and motivations are NOT shared by the mundane world, no matter how much it might look like that is so.

Now, on to the magazine!

Today’s favorite cover from the V1N1 collection is a more recent offering…with a debut only 46 years prior, rather than 70 or 80 or 90 years past.

Those readers with a fairly extensive fannish background will understand how this selection relates to my opening commentary.  The rest of you, do yourselves a favor and become a little bit more steeped in fannish history.

The magazine in question is Roger Elwood’s very short-lived magazine, Odyssey, from 1976 (Spring).

Elwood is generally credited with a collapse of short SF fiction markets in the 70’s through flooding the market through both a huge number of original and reprint anthologies, through Laser books, editing numerous fiction lines simultaneously and attempting to impose conservative Christian values on the market.

Odyssey was a short lived (2 issues) attempt at a slick magazine that was most decidedly not a success.  I can’t describe the effort any better than the SF Encyclopedia already has, so I will quote the magazine’s entry here:

Laser Books were, incidentally, published as an imprint of Harlequinn, the romance publisher, and were seeming designed to operate along the same formulaic lines as much of romance was at the time.  At conventions where the books were often distributed for free, they were frequently greeted with derision and laughter.

The magazine itself did feature a cover by Freas, though not his best, and contained within were recognizable names – Sturgeon, Niven, Pournelle, Pohl, Saberhagen – but nothing that made anyone stand up and take notice.

Odyssey was introduced towards the beginning of the late 70s “boom”;  we’re fortunate that magazines like Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, Omni and Galileo came along shortly thereafter.  It helped get the taste of Elwood out of everyone’s mouths.

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