Tony Lewis' Noreascon Reminiscence

1971Noreascon I, Boston
by Anthony R. Lewis (Noreascon I Chairman)
From the Noreascon 3 PB

Noreascon was the first convention chosen with a two-year lead time. This meant more progress reports, more time to plan, more time to worry. We introduced the escalating rate structure to induce people to join the convention as early as possible.

The con was held in the then-new Sheraton-Boston, located in the Back Bay of Boston with many restaurants and other diversions within easy walking or subway distance.

The two main emphases of the convention were to reduce hassle to the members by good planning and organization and to put on a solid program. Evidence of the first was in the lack of major disasters and the rapid response of the committee and staff to incidents as they occurred. In fact, some elements of fandom later complained that there had not been major disasters for the fans to rally around (may you live in interesting times, and all that). We printed our hotel contract in the program book so that attendees would know exactly what they could expect. This also proved to be a useful template for future conventions.

The program began the trend to multi-tracking at Worldcons. Main program was divided into three segments. The first dealt with the interaction of humanity with the universe and was called "Terraforming the Earth." The second dealt with interactions between humanity and intelligence(s) which may be humanity itself or may be others, either organic or non-organic; this was "Man-Made Man." Finally, we considered science fiction both as a tool and for its intrinsic values, literary and otherwise — "SF, the Writing on the Wall — Prophecy or Graffiti?" The last included an SFRA-sponsored session of academic papers. In addition to these were seminars, special interest groups, discussion groups, etc. We felt, than on the whole, this was very successful.

There were two tracks of films. One was the all-night movies introduced by St. Louiscon. The other was "The Wheel." This was a a 30-hour showing of old SF potboilers interspersed with classic serials such as "The Adventures of Captain Marvel" and "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe." One must remember that at this time there was no large-scale ownership of VCRs nor wide-spread distribution of cable TV. SF conventions were the only place that most fans could see these. This is no longer the case.

Guest of Honor was Clifford D. Simak; Fan Guest of Honor was Harry Warner, Jr. Both made fine speeches at the Hugo Awards banquet. (Note that the banquet speeches and presentations are available from NESFA on LPs.) Mario Bosnyak (TAFF Delegate) and Bob Shaw (winner of the BoSh fund) also spoke. Robert Silverberg was magnificent as the Toastmaster, and Isaac Asimov was his usual witty eminence presenting the Hugos while noting in passing (not more than 10 or 20 times) that he had not yet won one. The hotel got a standing ovation from the awards ceremony audience.

We went to assigned seating at the banquet, remembering stampedes at other conventions. This took a little extra effort but was well worth it.

About 1600 people attended Noreascon. While not large by today's standards, it was the largest (and smoothest running) Worldcon up to that time. Hugo nomination forms were sent out in French to Canadian and overseas fans as well as the usual English-language distribution. Over 50% of the membership (at deadline time) cast Hugo ballots, best returns coming from Canada.

The Committee: Tony Lewis (Chairman), Fred Isaacs (Treasurer), Stew Brownstein (Chief of Operations & Security), Dave Anderson (Records), Suford Lewis(Publications), Bill Desmond (Cinema), and the usual cast of hundreds (now thousands).