Polytechnic Science Fiction and Fantasy Association
The Polytechnic Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (also known as PSIFA) is a student SF club at the University of Hertfordshire (Hatfield Polytechnic prior to 1992) in Hatfield, UK. It was founded in 1978 by Jonathan Cowie and Steve Ford.
Its clubzine is Hypo-Space (named after Hypo or 'Hype-of-the-polytechnic' the original polytechnic student newspaper). It has engaged in may activities over the years including: regular wargaming evenings, writers workshops, field trips to conventions, and for a while it even had its on radio show (Radio Free Entropy) on Campus Radio Hatfield.
It's term-time Wednesday night meetings consisted of talks, quizzes and SF-related science (astronomy/computing) lectures by postgrad students. Once or twice a year a dozen or two PSIFA members would have a field trip to an SF convention. PSIFA usually had twice termly SF film outings, and of course in its first decade there were the Shoestringcons which were held for over a decade starting in 1978 with Shoestringcon 1: Polycon with GoHs Ken Bulmer and Mat Irvine (Dr. Who & Blake's 7 BBC special effects model maker)
The first convention (and the series) was named 'Shoestringcon' so as not to be unfairly compared with that year's heavily-resourced British Worldcon Seacon '79.
PSIFA's official mascot is 'The Gronk', an alien from the comic strip 'Strontium Dogs' in 2000AD with permission granted appearing in 2000AD Prog 129. 2000AD was one of the GoHs at Shoestringcon 2 and the relatioship with the comic lasted for several years with occasional references to PSIFA in the comic.
The first PSIFA member to have an SF novel published was its 1984/5 President Jaine Fenn in 2008 with Principles of Angels (Gollancz)
By the early 2010s, with the demise of the university rugby club, PSIFA became Hertfordshire University's oldest student society, but it seems to have now changed into a gaming group, Psifa Tabletop Gaming
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