Edited by Earl Kemp & George Price

Merry Blacksmith



The Proceedings: Chicon III

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

In 1962, the twentieth World Science Fiction Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois, a very different creation than the seventieth Worldcon held in Chicago in 2012. With only 730 members in attendance at the Pick-Congress Hotel, a single track of programming was all that was needed, for the entire membership could fit into a single hall.  In the year following the convention, Chicon III Chairman Earl Kemp and George Price published The Proceedings: Chicon III, a complete transcript of the event, an experiment which was only otherwise attempted one other time, following the 1963 convention in Washington D.C. In honor of the convention’s fiftieth anniversary, and coinciding with the seventh Worldcon to be held in Chicago, the Merry Blacksmith Press has reproduced the original Proceedings along with some supplementary materials.

The proceedings begin with descriptions of some of the events and exhibits set up for the convention, including registration and the problems they had, the art show, and the dealers room, each noting the hours and who was in charge of each area. Once the program officially got underway at 11:30 on Friday, a transcript is provided identifying the speakers, whether Convention Secretary Rosemary Hickey or authors, like Algis Budrys. Perhaps the most interesting thing about reading through the transcripts is how little things have changed.  Many of the topics and discussions in the book could easily occur at a modern science fiction convention, not just sharing topics, such as “SF: Is It Really Literature?” but even down to the actual points being made.  Similarly, many of the topics show the interests of the committee programming the convention, such as the panel on “Is There Too Much Sex in Science Fiction,” a focus reinforced by the ads and discussion of magazines including Rogue and Playboy.

In addition to a reprint of the original work, the new edition includes an introduction by Mike Resnick, who was Guest of Honor at Chicon 7, and an afterword by Kemp.  Reproductions of the pages of the souvenir book from 1962 also are included, giving a feel for how different science fiction fandom was, not just in the size of the program, but also in the identity of the advertisers, with numerous fannish groups and individuals taking out ads.

The Proceedings: Chicon III offers an excellent opportunity to experience a science fiction convention from half a century ago.  A comparison of the Worldcon from 1962 to even the smallest of today’s science fiction conventions is instructional and demonstrates not just how large the community has grown over the years, but also how much more expansive the community’s interests are.  With the plethora of programming at a modern Worldcon, a project like The Proceedings: Chicon III is no longer feasible (the last Worldcon to attempt to chronicle its programming was Chicon 2000, which recorded nearly 125 hours of programming, which was only about 10% of the total and no transcripts were made) and science fiction fans and historians should be grateful not only that Earl Kemp and George Price edited their book in 1963, but also that Merry Widow has seen fit to reprint the volume in recognition of its fiftieth anniversary.

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