A Brief History of
By Tom Barber, DI (1995)
In January of 1974, Dr. Marshall Tymn started a science fiction
club on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. The group picked
the name Waldo and Magic, Inc. after the Robert A. Heinlein book.
Initially, we were a book discussion group, although we did sponsor
a bus trip to the 1974 Worldcon in Washington, D.C. I became president
in the fall of Ď74. The club needed a project to help keep them
active. We had already been attending conventions. I felt that throwing
one was not beyond the reach of the group.
It took awhile to get peoplesí interest up. At one point, I had
taken advantage of having Roger Zelazny pass through town, to ask
him if he would be our guest of honor for our first convention.
It would have been held in 1975, but Marshall was skeptical about
our ability to run one and managed to talk the club out of it. I
was saddened to have to write our guest and tell him that the convention
The next year, I found out something that brought affordability
to the prospect of running a convention. Eastern Michigan University
was looking to put money into programs that would bring high school
students onto their campus. By holding a high school science fiction
fair on campus, on a Friday, we could have a weekend convention
with our guestsí travel picked up by EMU.
This time we felt we could do it. With the help of Lloyd Biggle,
we lined up Clifford D. Simak and James Gunn as co-Guests of Honor.
Lloyd also contacted other local authors, which also gave us himself,
T.L.Sherred, Joan Hunter Holly, Stan Schmidt, and Dean McLaughlin.
That is a fairly impressive list for a first time convention. We
held the first ConClave in the student union. It was an enjoyable
weekend. Even the committee had fun. We more than broke even, and
started talking about the next year.
I was determined to have ConClave II in a hotel. It would give
better ambiance, and we could stay open later than midnight. Thus
began the first great hotel search. Since there was more up-front
work to be done, the convention got its first set of co-chairs,
Steve Simmons and myself. We picked a Ramada Inn out by the airport.
It was plenty big enough for the 300 to 500 people that we could
expect. We had already lined up Ben Bova as our Pro Guest of Honor
and Bob and Anne Passovoy as Fan Guests of Honor.
We had some department heads who had never worked their department
before. We solved this by getting them to volunteer at other cons.
Mike Privett, who was in this situation with the art show, asked
me for my advice. I put him under the tutelage of Elizabeth Pearse,
a wonderful lady in the Toronto area, who ran art shows at cons
and later went on to found the Team Eh!
Life got more interesting for us while we were still some months
out from ConClave II. Lloyd Biggle came into the meeting with a
big grin. In exchange for a blood drive, we could bring Robert A.
Heinlein to the convention on his own nickel. With Heinlein as our
special guest, we got a lot of people. ConClave was made, and destined
Not that we havenít had a few problems over the years. Spider
Robinson canceled on us as Guest of Honor two years in a row, after
we had already put out our publicity. The hotels for ConClaves V
and XVIII didnít honor agreements, and emergency substitute locations
had to be found. ConClave VIIIís hotel also had problems with honoring
agreements, but we didnít find out until we were there watching
them turn away people with guaranteed reservations. I hope to never
see a situation like that again.
A side note: I had become a Dorsai Irregular (a fannish service
fraternity) in 1975. Since many of the membership are authors, artists,
filkers, big name fans, and knowledgeable people to have on panels,
I have tapped that resource over the years. Many DI have always
attended ConClave. It was decided to be the site of their semiannual
business meeting at ConClave VIII, which guarantees heavy attendance
by them. Six of ConClaveís Chairs have been DI. This is why there
are so many of them here, and I thank them for twenty years of support.
I am not going to give a blow by blow description of each convention.
I will mention a few standards that we have had from early in the
conventionís history. We have had a Saturday night dance since ConClave
VI. A Bill and Barry Show since ConClave V. We have gotten many
of the best filkers to attend, and started allocating concert space
when more people started wanting concerts in addition to open filking.
We have had Space Time Theater since they started. We have always
looked on this as giving a party for about a thousand of our closest
friends. We try to provide lots of entertaining events and adequate
space for lots of parties. We expect our attendees to have a good
We have been awfully lucky over the years. At least three times,
the guests that we picked have won the Hugo award that year. This
has become known as the ConClave Curse, a little bit of extra luck
wished to a Hugo Awards nominee, who happens to have accepted as
our guest of honor.
This convention has a twenty year history. It has taken the planning
and the sweat of a great many people to keep it running over that
many years. A history of ConClave is also a history of everyone
who has helped us over the years. If I miss some, I apologize; you
are still thanked in spirit.
Twenty years of ConClave brought to you with the help of:
||Tara Edwards Barber
||Jo Ann Radelt
||Mary Anne Mueller
These and many others have brought this convention to you, but
without you, the attendees, we would not have the incentive (or
the funds) to keep going. Our thanks for your support over all these