Pacificon II

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The 22nd Worldcon and second in the Bay Area, Pacificon II / Westercon 17 was held September 4–7, 1964, at the Hotel Leamington, Oakland, CA (not the same city — L.A. — where Pacificon I was held in 1946). GoHs: Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton. FGoH: Forrest J Ackerman. Anthony Boucher was Toastmaster. Chaired by J. Ben Stark and Al Halevy.

Worldcon was combined with the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference (Westercon 17), sharing Guests of Honor and chairmen. September 4th was designated to be Westercon's day.

San Francisco in '64 won over the Los Angeles in '64 bid at the 1964 Worldcon Site Selection held at Chicon III in 1963. Pacificon II hosted the 1965 Worldcon Site Selection: London in '65, Virgincon in '65, and Syracuse in '65 presented bids, and London was selected to run the 1966 Worldcon.

Pacificon had a $1,300 profit (substantial for those days) and distributed it:

They decided not to do a Proceedings "because we didn't want to set a precedent." Proceedings had been done by the two previous Worldcons, Discon I and Chicon III, and Pacificon felt that doing it a third time in a row would make it a Tradition.



The Breendoggle (which see), a huge controversy over the concom’s action to ban pederast Walter Breen, became the cause celebre of the convention.

Battle of the Mezzanine[edit]

An outgrowth of the Breendoggle, the “battle” was an exclusion act in which the concom tried to evict pro-Breen fen who hadn’t bought memberships.

Jerry Knight, Bob Lichtman, Redd Boggs and Kevin Langdon were among the fans who declared a “boycott” of Pacificon II over the Breen ban, yet still came to the hotel to meet friends in public areas (the definition of which was disputed) and attend some parties. Gretchen Schwenn, while on their side, had a membership, but refused to wear a name badge. Concom member Alva Rogers commented in Bixel 3 (June 1965):

Gretchen was a full $3.00 mem­ber although she hadn’t registered or picked up her name badge (actual­ly, the committee had given Gretchen an honorary membership in payment for the excellent help she’d given us in the preparation of the Westercon program book. It was because of this, undoubtedly, that Gretchen refused to resign her membership although she’d been quite outspoken in her criticism of the committee); Boggs was not a member and had no in­tention of becoming one.

Rogers wrote that all the formal activities (except for the banquet) were to take place on the mezzanine, including several open parties, and that the hotel had told the concom, "emphatically and without qualification, that we had complete control over the mezza­nine during the four days of the convention and had the right to ask any unauthorized person (non-member) to leave." The boycotters refused to accept the concom's edict, insisting that the mezzanine was a public area they were entitled to be in. Lichtman, "the most persistent and offensive nuisance," according to Rogers, made "an occasional foray up to the mezzanine to see if he could get away with it."

On Friday evening, Boggs, Langdon and Schwenn went up to the mezzanine, where Al Halevy told them to leave, and ordered Bob Buechley, the sergeant-at-arms, to evict them. As he tried, a brief scuffle between Schwenn and Buechley ensued, as Boggs described in his long "The Fan on the Mezzanine, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Con" — stenciled in 1964 but not published till Bete Noire 10 (1974):[1]

I swung around and saw Buechley grappling with Gretchen, his hands on her arm and shoulder, trying to drag her toward the stairway. She was trying to twist around to confront him, trying to get a hold on him, trying to take a fighting stance. Buechley continued to clutch at her as she got her feet under her and regained her balance. Since he was much bigger and much taller than she, Gretchen pulled herself at his middle, and tried to free herself from his grasp. She couldn’t reach up to grab his shoulders, so instead she tried an old and simple wrestling hold: She bent down, grasped his left leg just above the knee, straight­ened up, and threw him onto his back.

The hotel rocked with the impact of Buechley crashing to the floor with Gretchen atop him. In fact, the seismograph at Palo Alto was knocked off its pin. The struggle had surged around a big pillar and I was trying vainly to butt through the crowd to reach the scene of action. I arrived there just an instant after Buechley struggled away from under Gretchen and stumbled to his feet. 

Hugo Controversy[edit]

At the business meeting, Harlan Ellison tried to get Hugo Awards nominations taken away from WSFS members and turned over to an elite committee. According to George Scithers:

Harlan Ellison rose to tell a tale of woe:

According to Ellison, some-or-other pro author was expecting to win a Hugo, and, having won a Hugo, to get a profitable c*o*n*t*r*a*c*t for the work. Instead, some other writer was elected by the clod faaaans -- and Ellison's protagonist was left both Hugo-less and contract-less. Now this, explained Ellison, meant M*O*N*E*Y, lots of it, and he didn't for a minute intend to leave maters in the hands of mere fans and convention committees. He wanted another committee formed -- right away -- whose function would be to receive suggestions from anyone who might be interested, to read all the suggested works (or, one assumes, look at them, in the case of artists) and to come up with a nomination slate. Another motion, to appoint a Study Committee to investigate the whole Hugo system and make a preliminary recommendation at the '66 convention, was passed. Harlan was not to be put off -- he still demanded his committee be formed without waiting for the Study Committee. Amazingly, the Ellison committee motion passed. In theory the next couple of cons should, therefore, have their slate of nominees for the final vote prepared by a committee.

The upshot of this, as you might guess, was still another crack in the continuity of conventions. The Loncon simply scrapped the whole notion of a nominating committee without discussion, at least pending the report of the Study Committee which Dick Lupoff is chairing. Despite a spectacular explosion of dramatics from one of those concerned ["if he doesn't get a Hugo maybe they'll consider him for an Oscar", as an unimpressed witness commented] this summary move seems, if not to have killed the idea outright, at least put it in the freezer until the next convention.

More Reading[edit]


  1. Boggs’ account begins with a long introduction that quotes many other reports of the incident and takes some to task in detail. (While he is the most direct participant whose report we have, he bends the truth to his purposes, so his take should be accepted with caution. Boggs added a "selected bibliography," but omits, for example, the article by Rogers, who details much context on the boycotters though wisely notes, "Not being present at the time I can’t comment on the Gretchen Schwenn/Redd Boggs/Bob Buechley set-to.") Schwenn's account in a letter to John Boardman was published in his Sagana/Pillycock/Dagon #1/#13/#11 (10 December 1964 / 28 November 1964 / 4 Decem­ber 1964); it is not available online, but Boggs included a few passages "almost verbatim" in his text.

Discon I Worldcon - Bidding - Hugos Loncon II
SFCon Bay Area Worldcons Baycon
Westercon 16 Westercon - Bidding Westercon 1
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