Washington Science Fiction Association
(Did you mean WSFS?)
WSFA is Washington, DC’s local club, one of the older continuing clubs, and the sponsor of Capclave. It is closely associated with the other Baltiwash clubs, BSFS, and BWAWA.
It sponsors the WSFA Small Press Awards for short fiction.
As of 2022, WSFA was meeting on the first and third Friday evenings of every month in members’ homes in Virginia and Maryland.
The club was founded in the Fall of 1947 as the Washington Science Fiction Society (WSFS) by Russell Swanson (the first president), Robert Briggs (vice-president), Franklin Kerkhof (secretary-treasurer), Bob Pavlat, Chick Derry, Mercedes Mansfield, Phyllisann Courtis, and Reginald “Ray” Courtis, who had met at Philcon. The next year, it changed its name to Washington Science-Fiction Association (they dumped the hyphen in 1980). The club met every other Sunday, in the Transportation Building, in Washington, DC, until 1953.
For Chick Derry's memories of this period, see “Primordial WSFA.”
May 19, 1953, was the date of the Great WSFA Farewell Party when some of its most active members (including Karen Anderson, Lee Jacobs, George Earley and Dave MacInnes) moved out of town. Nonetheless, WSFA remained an unusually old and stable club with an unusually old membership (averaging in their mid-30s!).
Sometime in the ’50s, WSFA rented an apartment on O Street to be a clubhouse. The experiment quickly failed due to cost. For a time, the club met the first, third and fifth (if any — then the meeting was a pure party without any business meeting) Fridays of each month in members' homes. But by 1956, the club had settled on nearly always holding its meetings at the home of Elizabeth Cullen on West Beach Drive in NW DC. This continued until ill-health ended her hosting in about 1967.
In 1967, Alexis Gilliland started hosting First Fridays at his home, which continued until 2006. Third Fridays over the years met at many fans’ houses, including the Pavlats, Jay and Vol Haldeman, Kent Bloom and Mary Morman's, the Jack Heneghan/Normandy residence, the Burgess', Lewis/Peacock home, the Ginters'.
During the ’60s, WSFA usually had around 40 active members and meetings were attended by 15-20. Well-known fans who were members at the time included Joe and Jay Haldeman, Jack Chalker, Bob and Peggy Rae Pavlat, Dick Eney, Bob Madle, Banks Mebane, Alexis and Doll Gilliland, Don Miller, and Joe Mayhew.
In 1960, meetings moved to the first and third Fridays, which still remains the schedule. In 1963, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) was founded by WSFA members returning late at night on a Trailways bus from a WSFA meeting to their homes in Baltimore.
In 1975, Don Miller founded the Potomac River Science Fiction Society (PRSFS).
The Dunegate feud split Washington, DC, fandom in late 1984. When the movie of Dune was premiered, the studio contacted WSFA asking for names of people -- both fans and pros -- to invite to the DC opening. There wasn't room for all who felt entitled to be invited, and there was vigorous resentment between some of the not-invited and the then president of WSFA, Alexis Gilliland.
For reasons that are not entirely clear, this spun out of control and resulted in an especially nasty feud. (These were the days of the TAFF Wars, yet Mike Glyer commented in File 770 that "So many of us who have spent the past five months wading through the cesspit of fandom's TAFF feud were deluded into thinking that [that] was a bitter, vitriolic feud." This was worse.)
The feud split the club, with Somtow Sucharitkul and Timothy R. Sullivan leaving to found the short-lived Washington Alternative SF Association and publishing a fanzine, Dune Gate.
Given how essentially trivial the nominal cause was, this, more than most fan feuds, was probably fueled by other tensions in the club.
- File 770 51, p. 11 (long article by Mike Glyer)
- File 770 52, p. 16 (letters in response)
- File 770 54, p. 8 (final notes)
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|see Washington, DC|
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|From Washington, DC The Washington Science-Fiction Association, formed in a coal cellar in 1948, has persisted to the present day. It's noted for its high proportion of actifans, beautiful wimmen, and two-fisted drinkers, including such folk as Bob Pavlat, Bill Evans, Chick Derry, Dick Eney, Nelson Griggs, Ted White, John Magnus, and various others at times. WSFAns have played a prominent part in all four fan APAs, and contributed vast store of fanzines to the contents of various mailings. Of late, such historically valuable projects as the Pavlat-Evans continuation of Swisher's checklist, some APA indexing-work, and this volume have been accomplished by WSFA members.|
In 1953, WSFA held the first Disclave. Disclaves were held sporadically at first, then every year from 1965 through 1997. After the Disclave Flood drowned the con in 1997, WSFA started Capclave in 2001. It ran Smofcon 22 in 2004 and the World Fantasy Convention 2003.
In 1980, WSFA hosted a relaxacon, Datclave, to commemorate February having a fifth Friday, and it continued to hold February or March relaxacons each year through 1985. Datclave 2 was held in 2008 as February again had a 5th Friday. They expect to host DatClave 3 in 2036.
WSFA has also been heavily involved in Worldcons. It ran the losing Washington in 1950 bid. Subsequently it ran Discon in 1963, Discon II in 1974, and the disastrous Discon III in 2021. It has run a number of losing Worldcon bids as well (DC in 1960, DC in 007, and DC in 2011).
Starting in 1949, they began publishing Quanta, and in 1959, WSFAn Dick Eney published Fancyclopedia II -- it wasn't a WSFA project, however.
The first issue of The WSFA Journal was published in March, 1965 by Dick Eney and Don Miller, but Eney dropped out with the third issue, leaving Miller as editor for its first and most prolific 10 years. Except for a three-year gap, 1975–78, it has been published regularly ever since. Son of the WSFA Journal began in 1969.
The second series of The WSFA Journal and the Son of the WSFA Journal was started by Somtow Sucharitkul, Joe Mayhew, Jack Lechner, and others, and has been published approximately monthly ever since. All the second series issues are online at the WSFA website.
Avedon Carol pubbed WSFAnac in the early ’80s.
Well-known deceased members of WSFA: Chick Derry, Dick Eney, Doll Gilliland, Jay Haldeman, Pat Kelly, Joe Mayhew, Don Miller, Bob Pavlat, Peggy Rae Sapienza, George Scithers.
WSFA Press was started in 1989, and through 1992 published a book by each Disclave's GoH. It was revived in 2005.
The small press published mainly books by Disclave and Capclave GoHs.
|1990||Disclave 34||Mike Resnick||Through Darkest Resnick with Gun and Camera|
|1991||Disclave 35||Lewis Shiner||The Edges of Things|
|1992||Disclave 36||Pat Cadigan||Home by the Sea|
|2009||Capclave 2009||Harry Turtledove||Reincarnations|
|2010||Capclave 2010||Connie Willis||Fire Watch|
|2010||Capclave 2010||Jeff VanderMeer||The Three Quests of the Wizard Sarnod|
|2011||Capclave 2011||Catherynne M. Valente||Silently and Very Fast|
|2011||Capclave 2011||Carrie Vaughn||Straying from the Path|
|This is a club page. Please extend it by adding information about when and where the club met, when and by whom it was founded, how long it was active, notable accomplishments, well-known members, clubzines, any conventions it ran, external links to the club's website, other club pages, etc.
When there's a floreat (Fl.), this indicates the time or times for which we have found evidence that the club existed. This is probably not going to represent the club's full lifetime, so please update it if you can!