( T ) — from TAPERA to TWILTONE




— Is a ‘Tape Opera’, which is to say, a fan-written play recorded on a reel to reel tape recorder and played at either a club meeting or a convention. While tape recorders were available as far back as 1948 — for $400 a piece! Wire recorders were in use then as much cheaper — fans began to afford and use tape recorders in the early 1950s. For some reason the British took up the practice with far more enthusiasm than the Americans. In fact the only US tapera I know of was the tapera MAGNET recorded by Seattle fans and played at the 1959 Westercon.

In 1953 the ‘London Circle’, a group of British fans, produced WHISKERS, scripted by legendary Irish fan Walt Willis, for the Coroncon.

1954 saw a Liverpool fan recording of the tapera THE ALIEN ARCHIVES, scripted by Don McKay and Walt Willis, played at Supermancon.

1955 witnessed Cytricon 1, where Blog was introduced as something already invented by Liverpool fans. They also played the tapera THE MARCH OF SLIME which was 30 minutes long and apparently all about Blog, along with characters based on actual ( and/or hoax ) fans like Sandy Sanderson and Joan Carr marching “through polar and Saharan wastes”.

An even longer tapera, at 45 minutes, LAST AND FIRST FEN, was played at Cytricon 1 as well. It allegedly boasted a full symphony orchestra and a choir of hundreds providing background music, which suggests they relied on records playing in the background as they taped the dialogue, or such is my guess. At any rate the Liverpool fan tapes had the reputation of being quite lavishly produced, a real treat to hear.

One possible Canadian tapera, though whether it was reel to reel or cassette I don’t know, was CATTLE FARM GALACTICA written by Calgary fans Eric Tilbrook & Amin Bhatia some time in the mid 1970s. Originally intended as a radio play, it was for years afterward popular at club meetings and conventions.

No doubt there were many more. I’ll mention them as I find them.



— Founded in London, Ontario, in 1948. Immediately affiliated with the Canadian SF Association. But in the course of 1949 the CSFA itself became moribund as the Hamilton club, which provided the CSFA executive, declined in membership and activity. Shortly after the Hamilton club ceased to exist in 1950, the Thames club became extinct as well. Though the CSFA rebounded in 1951 with a new executive based in Winnipeg, the Thames club did not revive.

A few London fans are listed in the CANADIAN FAN DIRECTORY published by the CSFA in 1952. These may possibly have been members of the Thames SF Society. They are: Sam McCoy, M.G. Miller, & B.C. Stonehill.



— Simply put, the short version of the phrase “this issue”. Invented, like so many other examples of fannish slang, to save a bit of valuable space when typing stencils but also, and perhaps more importantly, to impress neos with the ‘insider’ nature of fannish language and writing. You know you’re a success if you’re incomprehensible, (which applies in the business and political spheres of human activity as well). After all, it is the mark of every elite to look and sound different, hence the British Upper Class Twit accents or the Mayan practice of binding noble’s heads when young so they’ll be deformed. All in all, fannish slang is remarkably harmless compared to what the mundane world sometimes creates for similar reasons.


— Last meeting of Irish Fandom in Oblique House, May 6, 1965, as reported in the 79th issue of SKYRACK.

“On 6th May the old red brick house at 170 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, which had been the H.Q. of Irish Fandom for nearly 20 years, finally reverted to the mundane plane of existence. At a house-cooling party the occasion was marked by a simple but moving ceremony attended by all Irish fandom. In the fan attic the last ghoodminton service was solemnly performed by Bob Shaw. Symbolically, it was not returned. Instead the last shuttlecock was picked up by John Berry and reverently removed to its final resting place, a time capsule donated by Sadie Shaw. Also in the glass, cylindrical two pound capsule were deposited a copy of THE ENCHANTED DUPLICATOR (1st edition), some hyphens in printing type, used for SLANT, a dollop of duplicating ink, James White’s first bow tie (symbolizing the professional element of IF) and signatures of the great fans and good friends who had stayed at Oblique House during the years… The time capsule was then buried in the front lawn, underneath the cherry tree, in earth with which had been mingled the sacred soil of South Gate, donated by Rick Sneary. A fannish era had ended.”

As reported in Sqiggledy Hoy #3:

“I got a loc from Walt back in 1998 – he mentioned the time capsule but in a far less excitable way than Greg reprinted above, so I’m inclined to believe it may be true: ‘[Re:] reference to Sharyn McCrumb’s description of the fans who put manuscripts etc. in a large pickle jar and buried it. That is just what Irish Fandom did when we left our first home, 170 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast, in 1965. We buried beneath the cherry tree in the front garden the working copy of The Enchanted Duplicator, some of the type used to set up Slant, one of James E. White’s bow ties (to symbolize the professional aspect of Irish Fandom), and other memorabilia of Irish Fandom which I forget, all in a 2lb jam jar. There it remains to this day, because the cherry tree has not been disturbed.’ …it looks so similar as to suggest it’s a real memory rather than a fiction.”

The last line was occasioned by the rumour that the time capsule story was a hoax, one typical of Walt Willis’s dry sense of humour.  However, it is most likely that the story is true.


— The Worldcon convention held in Toronto, 3rd-5th July 1948. It was:

– the sixth Worldcon.

– the first Worldcon held outside the USA.

– the first Worldcon held in Canada.

– the first Worldcon to be tape recorded ( which enabled complete text of lectures to be published in the Torcon Report ). (JRC)

– the first Canadian science fiction convention.

– the first Canadian science fiction convention to be sponsored by a club ( the Toronto SF Society AKA Toronto Derelicts )

– the first SF convention to feature a propeller beanie, worn by Michigan fan George Young.

– the first SF convention with a Fan Guest of Honour (not labeled as such, but that’s why he, Bob Tucker, was invited as a GoH alongside Robert Bloch).

– the SF convention which saw the origin of the term ‘Zap Gun’.

– the site of the first get-together of representatives of the constituent member clubs of the Canadian Science Fiction Association, at which two SF correspondence clubs were founded, the National Fantasy Fan Federation & the Fantastellar Association.



— Leslie A. Croutch shot three minutes of movie film ( in 8 mm ) at the first TORCON (1948 World Convention). A copy was preserved in what was then called the “Spaced Out Library” in Toronto, Ontario, as of 1982. It is to be hoped that it is still extant in what is now called “The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy”.


— When the Toronto SF Society was founded in 1947 its members soon took to calling themselves ‘The Derelicts’ after the title of a fan essay by prominent American fan Robert Lowndes. I’m guessing the essay described a new type of emerging fan, one that may have been either praised or condemned, and that the Toronto fans decided the description applied to them. They also called themselves ‘The Toronto Derelicts’. This group burned out after the Torcon 1 and slowly faded away until the Toronto SF Society was revived by an influx of new members in 1953, whereupon many of the original Derelicts became active again.

The core group of original Derelicts 1947-1951 included Joseph ‘Beak’ Taylor, Edward ‘Ned’ McKeown,, Jack Doherty, Don Hutchinson, and John Millard.

The ‘fresh blood’ newcomers who swarmed into the Toronto SF Society in 1953, a new wave of Derelicts as it were, included Gerald A. Steward, William D. Grant, P. Howard Lyons, Ron Kidder, Pat Patterson and Boyd Raeburn, among others. They were noted for “behaving in a lighthearted and irreverent manner”, particularly the subset of ‘Derelicts’ who came to be known as the ‘Toronto Insurgents’. (HWJ) (JRC) (GS)



— According to Harry Warner Jr., a small group of Toronto SF Society members — in effect a subset of the Derelicts — in the 1950s “epitomized by Gerald Steward, Boyd Raeburn, and Ron Kidder…. liked to dress in motorcycle caps, red shirts, black strides, and mustard-yellow jackets (although Steward, to dramatize the fact that he was the most insurgent of them all, wore orthodox garb to dramatize the extremity of his differentness). They were dedicated to fandom for fandom’s sake, to jazz, and to sports cars.” (HWJ)



— A loose-knit SF club founded in 1947 by Don Hutchinson and John Millard, partly as a social, SF discussion society, but mostly in order to organize and sponsor a bid for TORCON 1, and then the Worldcon itself. Included members like Beak Taylor & Ned McKeown (both of CANADIAN FANDOM fame). Possibly the 3rd SF club to be created in Canada (predated only by the Ontario Science Fictioneers and the Montreal SF Society, as far as I’m aware).

Affiliated with the Canadian SF Association in 1948. Became moribund circa 1951, then came an infusion of fresh blood. By the early fifties ” a new set of active members had bobbed up, like William (Bill) D. Grant, Ron Kidder, P. Howard Lyons, Gerald Steward, and Pat Patterson.”

All of the above (with the exception of Pat Patterson) are listed in the 1952 CANADIAN FAN DIRECTORY published by the Canadian SF Association. Other Toronto fans listed may also have been members of the Toronto SF Society. They are:

Pat Abbot, John W. Anstee, Charles L. Avery, Albert A. Betts, Tom Birmingham, Michael Bishop, Anthony Boldt, Kenneth Boulanger, Sandra Brown, Eric Byars, Donald Cameron, Ronald Carr, Don Chandlar, L. Chapman, Alfred Charles Cole, Phillip Collins, Michael Cook, Bill Darker, Jack Doherty, Abion E. Doxse, Fred Drucker, Peter S. Favro, T.J. Ferris, Kenneth R. Frost, D. Gilchrist, F.A. Giles, S.C. Goldsmith, William Greatrex, Douglas Guscott, Harold Hallett, Tom R. Hanley, Fred J. Heal, Clare Howes, Don Hutchison, Paul Julkunen, Monty Katz, J. Lever, Jean Low, G.E. MacKenzie, John H. Mason, Tom McGillian, Joesephine Medhurst, John L. Millard, Ronald Monkman, Morton A. Montgomery, Bart Mulliver, Evelyn Pannell, Fred Rannharter, M.J. Redman, Bruce Robertson, Wallace H. Rockett, Stanley Ross, Howard W. Russell, Douglas Rutherford, Alex Saunders, Robert M. Schultz, A. Sheppard, Lewis Sivanson, Jack Sloan, Philip F. Smith, Howard Somers, Bruce D. Spoule, David Stone, Frank Sullivan, A.C. Uttley, Harold P. Wakefield, Miss Sydney Waugh, Ted White & James T. Williams.

Some members began referring to themselves as ‘The Toronto Derelicts’ and this name was quickly associated with the club as a whole, so that the two titles became synonymous in the minds of fans everywhere.

Harry Warner Jr. wrote: “The dog days that Canadian fandom was in during the 1950s are best illustrated by the fact that even the Derelicts didn’t flourish as a club as long as might be imagined from their fame and energy and from the continuing appearance of memoirs and reprints involving members. In 1954 the club’s monthly meetings were lasting all night, during which the principal activities were listening to music, watching old movies, and talking. Within two years, meetings among club members were a rarity, and the bull sessions of the past had been transformed for the most part into long telephone conversations between this and that Derelict.”

The long, slow death of the club began in 1956 and finally rattled its ending circa 1959.

After the OSFiC ( the Ontario SF Club ) was founded in 1966, some of its members took to referring to themselves as the ‘New Derelicts’ beginning about 1972, and termed the former members of the Toronto SF Society the ‘Old Derelicts’. (HWJ) & (JBR)



— Part of the visual appeal, and tactile appeal, of mimeozines like, say BCSFAzine in the 1980s, was the nature of the paper. It was specifically designed, if not for Gestetners solely, then for mimeos in general. Called Twiltone ( I think ), it was nowhere near as smooth as copy paper , but felt rather soft and ever-so-slightly textured, rather like newsprint, but much thicker and sturdier. It was a sort of blotting paper designed to soak up the ink. It was not possible to produce really fine detail, the soaking aspect created a very slight blurring, but not so’s you’d notice unless you had a magnifying glass handy.

Twiltone was available in the following colours: Buff, Yellow, Blue, Pink, Golden Rod and, of course, White ( and possibly others I’m unaware of ). The colours were soft and muted, so that they didn’t overwhelm the text and artwork the way so many ‘extreme’ copy paper colours do today. On the other hand, some colour paper today is acid free, unlike twiltone, and will last for centuries if properly cared for. Alas, most mimeozines will probably decay into shreds and flakes by the end of the century.

Twiltone, like Gestetner ink and Gestetner machines themselves, is no longer manufactured. A few diehards possess carefully hoarded supplies, but a mimeozine is a rare beast indeed these days. Getting one in the mail is like being shipped a living dinosaur. Cause for celebration.