A Brief History of ConClave
by Tom Barber (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 1974. 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 peoples’ 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 was canceled.
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 guests’ 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 to survive.
Not that we haven’t 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 didn’t honor agreements, and emergency substitute locations had to be found. ConClave VIII’s hotel also had problems with honoring agreements, but we didn’t find out until we were there watching them turn away people with guaranteed reservations. I hope to never see a situation like that again.
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 convention’s 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 time.
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 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.
ConClave has been and is brought to you with the help of, among others:
|Chris Clayton||Liz Boss||Sue Stahl||Garry Stahl|
|Ross Anderson||Larry Diehr||Bruce Jaffe||Elizabeth Pearse|
|Steve Simmons||Steve Andre||Kevin Dockery||Ben James|
|Rebecca Price||Tom Smith||Glenda Andre||Alan Dormaire|
|Kay Jarrell||Mike Privett||Michelle Smith-Moore||Tara Edwards Barber|
|Jennifer Dye||Rob Karnes||Jo Ann Radelt||Denise Stahl|
|Tom Barber||Kim Dyer||Erik Kauppi||Mitch Radelt|
|Jason Spitzer||Garth Barbour||Nancy Farmer||Colin Lamb|
|Ted Reynolds||David Stein||Chris Beck||Sharon Ferraro|
|Jerry Lamb||Chris Roach||Diana Stein||Pat Beck|
|Dave Filpus||Maggie Lamb||David Roach||Dan Story|
|Barbara Bennet||Clif Flynt||Lan Laskowski||Don Roberts|
|Jan Story||Brenda Bennet||Barry Gehm||Bob Legowsky|
|Suzanne Robinson||Kim Sussman||Andi Bennet-Banks||Thea Grimes-Tenney|
|Liz Lindsey||Brian Roe||Dennis Tabaczowski||Mark Bernstein|
|Paul Haas||Pat McCarthy||Karen Roe||Walt Taylor|
|Lloyd Biggle||Terry Harris||Theresa McCuen||Bill Roper|
|Mike Terry||Gary Bratzel||Dora Heitsch||Dean McLaughlin|
|Gretchen Roper||Vince Tessier||Sharon Brevoort||Bill Higgins|
|Karen March||Carol Ruff||Elessar Tetramariner||Lee Carrol|
|Doug Houseman||Mary Anne Mueller||Stacey Rumptz||Richard Tucholka|
|Rene Gobeyn||Pete Hubbard||Tim Murphy||Tim Ryan|
|Marshall Tymn||Chris Cloutier||Peg Huffaker||Robin Nakkula|
|Sandy Schrieber||Mickey Weeks||Kathleen Conat||Elizabeth Huffman|
|Sandy Neubauer||Tim Seefeld||Don Wenzel||Maia Cowan|
|Sandi Hughes||Anna O’Connell||Marion Skupski||Susan Williams|
|Ed Goddard||Matthew Altergott||Mike Thelen||Keith Kurek|
|Greg Cronau||Steve Hoyer||John Altergott||Toni Hughes|
|Jim Overmyer||Patricia Altergott||Jenna Hoyer||Jody Harrow|
|Melissa Clemmer||Karen Klink||Gerald Gentry||Daniel Altergott|
|Steve Macdonald||Chad Childers||Alan Bernstein||Laura Loken|
|Brad Handley||Jeanna Jordon||Paula Handley||Shelley Dougan|
|Matt Arnold||Bill Kolasa||Paul Loeschner||Alexander Altergott|
|Hugh Daniel||Greg Barker||Tracy Worcester||Susan Harris|
|Bunny Silverman||Joshua Wong||Howard Devore||Richard Sussman|
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 years.