TAFF Wars

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The TAFF Wars were fandom-wide feuds over the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund.

1957–1959[edit]

The first of what came to be called the TAFF Wars erupted with the 1957 east-bound race.

Bob Madle won, Stu Hoffman came in second and Dick Eney, the candidate preferred by most British fans, third. American fans were incensed by Hoffman, who, said Eney in in Fancy 2, “toured the country offering to pay the token contribution (50¢, or £2/6) for anybody who'd vote for him,” but U.K. fans protested Madle's win, claiming he wasn’t a fitting candidate, being little known there, and the feud raged through trans-Atlantic fanzines all year.

Chuck Harris, among the British objectors, complained of:

...this delusion that TAFF is some sort of international popularity contest open to anyone who thinks he can claim the label of 'faan'. It isn't. It NEVER was. I was part of the group who dreamt up the idea at the 1953 con, and although it was delightfully vague, we did make one qualification for all the candidates. I will quote it from the first publicity that was ever given to TAFF -- Ken Slater's 1953 Convention Report. Here it is stated explicitly that the candidate SHOULD BE SOMEONE FAIRLY WELL KNOWN TO BOTH BRITISH AND AMERICAN FANDOM.

Harris also claimed that only Eney had the requisite nominators.

On the U.S. side, Don Ford opined:

It seems that in the British area there are about 25 or so fanzine publishers. They seem to feel that they comprise all of fandom in Britain. When their favourite candidate did not win the 1957 election they somehow felt cheated.

Feuding in FAPA on the subject, between G. M. Carr and Walt Willis, among others, got so bad that Willis declined an invitation to attend the 1958 Worldcon and left the apa.

Bitterness continued through 1958 with arguments over voter eligibility. These came to a crux with British administrator Ron Bennett’s announcement that "Anyone who is considered to be a science fiction fan is eligible to nominate, be a candidate, and vote. In brief, if you're reading this, you are eligible." Harris, of course, was livid, writing in Swan Song 1:

From here on down only literacy itself is needed. You need only flash your copy of GAMBIT -- or, indeed, of SWAN SONG -- in front of Old Frank Hartnett Snr, or Mrs Olive Troetschel, or Mr Shorty Rogers [supposed mundanes among the voters in the 1957 TAFF race] and their votes become as good and as eligible as anyone else's around here. Their wives, their children, and their aged grandmother can nominate and vote like crazy...And one last question -- were you drunk, Ron?

Rules wrangling went on until after the 1959 race, as Rob Hansen described in Then:

Don Ford won the race, and the result caused almost as much fuss as the 1957 result had. Wells and Carr split the fanzine fan vote, to the dismay of most British fans who were convinced that the absence of second and third place votes had allowed Ford in. There was consternation in the US too, and when FANAC polled its readers 55 out of the 106 who responded rated TAFF's rules and procedures unsatisfactory. However, the fuss was largely ended when a detailed breakdown of the voting figures showed that as well as winning comfortably in the US, Ford would also have led by a narrow margin in UK voting. Nevertheless, it was too much for Chuck Harris and he quit fandom in disgust....

1983–1985[edit]

The other main set of TAFF Wars, including Topic A and the Great Bergeron Feud as its beginning in 1983 and continuing through the 1985 race, was a complex feud that erupted in late 1984.

In 1984, the TAFF race was westbound, between Rob Hansen and D. West, both Brits. The North American administrator for the race was Avedon Carol, the 1983 TAFF winner, who had developed a close personal (and entirely out-in-the-open) relationship with Hansen, whom she later married. Richard Bergeron, an American fan then living in Puerto Rico, an advocate of West, came to believe that Carol had been biased in favor of Hansen and had somehow influenced his ultimate win. Bergeron took an unfortunate personal comment about him by her in a fanzine as an attack, and started a series of attacks in fanzines and personal letters.

Ted White, Chuck Harris, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, and Dave Langford (some of whom were among D. West's nominators) wrote Bergeron, but neither they nor D. West himself were able to convince him. Midwestern fans Dave Locke and Jackie Causgrove, who had been unhappy with aspects of the 1983 TAFF race, became involved on Bergeron's side, with Causgrove publishing Ettle. (Other fanzines inspired by the feud were Life Sentence and Life Sucks.)

Up to that point, the feud was essentially an American affair, with little notice taken of it in the UK. But during the 1985 TAFF race, an eastbound race to send a North American to the UK, the controversy spread.

The official candidates were Rich Coad and Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden (from the West Coast and East Coast, respectively). Martha Beck, an Indiana fan beloved in Midwestern circles had also been nominated, but her filing was incomplete. According to Hansen and Carol, the administrators, one of her nominators was dilatory, so she did not appear on the ballot. Her nominators, who included Causgrove, denied it and said that, even if one nomination had been slightly late, it was not fannish to adhere that closely to the rules. Beck was well-known and well-liked as a convention fan in the U.S., but was then little-known in the U.K. Beck was not herself involved in the TAFF Wars except as the "Midwestern candidate."

TAFF had never been a regional thing, but Midwestern sensibilities had already been riled by Ben Yalow at the 1984 WSFS Business meeting at L.A.con II. Speaking in support of a motion to eliminate the Central Zone from the Worldcon Site Selection rotation in which he used the term "Wimpy Zone" to describe it. This was taken as an attack on Midwestern fandom (and, of course, was garbled and improved as word made its way along the fannish grapevine).

With this background, the Martha Beck write-in campaign led by Jackie Causgrove was bound to make waves and did so on both sides of the Atlantic, since we now had sectionalism rearing an ugly head in the US, the suspicion that the on-going feud over the 1984 race was at the root of the matter, and a feeling in the UK that a (feared) massive Midwestern vote would marginalize the votes of UK fans. There were also elements of fanzine fan vs. con fan rivalry.

In the end, the Nielsen Haydens won, but not before a record vote, and much bitterness all around. (See 1985 TAFF Race.)

To minimize the chances of future regional candidates, the TAFF rules were subsequently changed to require that a winner receive at least 20% of the vote on both sides of the Atlantic.

For further information, see:


Fan history Map Search: Fanac, Fan, Pro, SFE, Wikipedia, Reasonator

Also involved: - 1985 DUFF Race - Dunegate - Great Bergeron Feud - Great-bergeron-feud - Taff-wars - Topic A - Topic-a - Uncle Dick's

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