Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Missing Wiscon

Our normal activity for Memorial Day weekend has been, for many years, attending the feminist science fiction convention named Wiscon. It is held, these days, in the Madison Concourse. This year I made the decision to attend Wiscon countless times. despite lack of means.

I made the decision not to attend countless times plus one.

I had particularly wanted to go this year to see old friend and collaborator Richard Bowes, a fine novelist -- one of the finest, in truth, in my reading experience -- and to see again Carol Emshwiller, who came to my assistance during the writing of the Cyril Kornbluth biography.

But ...

The financial situation is in the process of changing, here in our household, because of my having taken on a job -- one that seems to be the kind of job best for me: one that saps less than the full energies that I should be putting into creative activities ... yet while the financial picture is changing, it has yet to actually change. I could not quite contemplate going two thousand dollars in debt to buy my author copies of the biography, and then adding atop that the hundreds required to spend time at the Madison Concourse. Moreover I have yet to prepare the promotional materials I need to have at hand, in any convention appearances ... so had I, this year, opted for Wiscon, I would have been making the drive down and spending the days and dollars without books to show and sell, and without materials to hand out. However much the value -- it is immense -- of seeing friends whom I dearly want to see, it seems far better to wait until I can attend conventions better equipped.

Staying home allowed us the pleasure of frittering away time, doing some Memorial-weekend rummaging. At one point in our wanderings we went into an antique shop in Centerville which usually we have seen closed and so never had investigated. A great many wonders awaited us inside. What I walked out with, though, for $2.50, was a copy of the January, 1960, issue of The Original Science Fiction Stories -- a magazine with which I had no familiarity. Its editor was Robert A.W. Lowndes, though -- the figure who, as Robert W. Lowndes, Bob Lowndes, or "Doc" Lowndes, has such prominence in the Cyril Kornbluth biography. What prompted my purchase, though, was the prominent notice on the cover:

"Puritan Planet," by Carol Emshwiller.

A perhaps stranger reminder of the Wiscon we were missing came for Martha at the Agricenter in Viroqua, where we stopped on Sunday to look at some plants. She was writing a check, so picked up the pen lying on the plant-nursery counter ... a pen from the Madison Concourse. The clerk said she had never seen the pen before.

Cheers ...


  1. Missed you both! It was especially sad to not see you since I was awol for Diversicon. World Fantasy? Diversicon?

  2. Hi, Kristin ... We'd both really like to see you and Alan again -- and Lorna would love to meet you.

    World Fantasy ... I'm hoping. Diversicon: yes.

    And what about meeting in Alma or Fountain City or whatever other midpoint city along the Mississippi sometime?