Fred Pohl's Tricon Reminiscence

1966Tricon, Cleveland
by Frederik Pohl
From the Noreascon Three PB

Cleveland, Ohio, is not generally described as one of the most romantic and fascinating cities in the world, but the 1966 Worldcon there was a delight. One special memory sticks in my mind. We shared the Sheraton-Cleveland hotel with another convention — maybe the last time that ever happened, before Worldcons got so big that we crowded everybody out. This time the other con was some sort of reunion of war veterans. I don't have anything against war veterans; some of my best friends are war veterans, and actually so am I; but I don't think they would be my first choice for a group to share a con with. In the event, they didn't bother us much. We didn't bother them, either. About the only place where the two populations came in contact was in the hotel elevators — notably on the night when one of those elevators got stuck between floors. We were there an hour while the engineers banged and clanged and tried to figure out how to get us out. What they finally had to do was to bash out a hatchway so we could climb from the stuck car to the one next to it to get out. Naturally, the car was packed to the limit — has there ever been a Worldcon elevator in party time that was not? We were hot, sweaty, certainly pretty uncomfortable. And those war heroes in the funny hats were sobbing, beating on the walls of the car, crying that they were too young to die like rats in a trap…while the fans in the same car were wholly relaxed and enjoying the whole thing, laughing and filking just as they would at any other room party. (I don't know if that actually proves that fans are braver than war veterans. I suspect it may only mean that fans believe that, if you gotta go, what better place to do it than at a Worldcon?)

This time I did get to the business meeting, because once again I had a Guest-of-Honor bid and I'd learned my lesson from London the year before. Three groups were bidding for the site of the next Worldcon, and two of them had let me know that if they got it I was to be their GoH. I thought that was pretty good odds, but when it came to vote time Harlan Ellison got up and orated for half an hour about the wonders of the Big Apple. (New York was the bid that had picked someone else as guest.) Harlan is one of the most persuasive speakers who ever lived, and I knew my hopes were in trouble — right up to the point where he promised to take everyone to dinner with him at Keane's Chop House. He didn't put it in writing, though; but all the same New York won the vote and my hopes were dashed.

But I got a pretty neat consolation prize in Cleveland. The other thing that sticks in my mind about Tricon is that I got a Hugo (the 1966 Best Professional Magazine Hugo) there. I had never received one before. I guess you always remember your first time.