A PROPOSED CONSTITUTION FOR WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTIONS
BY BOB TUCKER
INTRODUCTION by Ken Keller
When not writing professional mystery and science fiction under his “Wilson Tucker” byline, Bob Tucker pursued a parallel passion which spanned more than a half-century. He became one of science fiction fandom’s best known fan writers, fan editors, and convention personalities. The “fannish pro” label certainly applied to Bob and his long career.
In science fiction fandom’s published histories, Bob is credited with introducing humor into 1930s fandom’s often “sercon” (i.e., serious and constructive) young and frequently humorless sub-culture. Using his natural affinity for wit, satire, and parody, his writing was frequently published in the era’s hectographed and mimeographed fan magazines, including his own. These low-circulation efforts were referred to as “fanmags,” sometimes being abbreviated in print as just “fmz,” and were the life-blood of science fiction’s slowly growing pocket universe. (In fandom’s evolving fanspeak nomenclature, the term “fanzine” was not coined until 1940.)
Forty years ago, MidAmeriCon’s toastmaster Bob Tucker read Bill Fesselmeyer’s essay “How the GRINCH Stole Worldcon” with a good deal of amusement when it first appeared in MAC’s Progress Report #2. Being mentioned in it only spurred on Bob’s imagination, honed to a fine edge by decades of fannish writing. Inspired by its tongue-in-cheek bravado, Bob went on to compose a similar though shorter take on the frequently beset and ever-changing World Science Fiction Society Constitution, offering a completely new take on it, Tucker-style, for MAC members to ponder. This first appeared in MidAmeriCon’s Progress Report #3 (1975).
In 2006 Bob passed away at age 91. The WSFS Constitution, through the annual WSFS business meetings, is still beset with changes every year, forty years after Tucker first set his humorous brickbats to paper. Reading it again carefully, I wonder… was Bob Tucker’s real intention so many years ago to actually show science fiction fandom a way out from under Worldcon’s unending Robert’s Rules of Order-governed tyranny? Read on, MidAmeriCon II member, it’s never too late for us to implement Tucker’s diabolical plan!
We, the victimized science fiction fans of the United States and its many Colonies around the world, in order to form a more perfect series of conventions, establish justice for the downtrodden fan, insure the privacy of room parties, provide for the common thirst, defend ourselves against hucksterism, promote the welfare of the sponsoring committees and their groupies, and secure the blessings of hedonism to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and impose this constitution on the backs of future committees and their heirs or assigns.
All previous and now-existing world convention constitutions shall be abolished, together with their Societies, and no provision of them shall be binding upon the present. Objectors to this Article shall suffer the penalties of defenestration.
The general purpose of a world convention shall be to gather together in one place, or two hotels and a municipal auditorium1 if that is not possible, all those rugged individualists who do not read science fiction but who pay lip service to it by: publishing illegible fan journals, composing pseudo-science stories, collecting garish cover art and lesser illustrations, trading comic books, selling back- issues and scarce books at astronomical prices, stealing artifacts they cannot afford, praising shoddy anti-science films, encouraging infantile television programs, criticizing unread novels, toadying to ego-swollen authors, and by exhibiting themselves in public places as slave girls, belly dancers, bugeyed monsters, mutants, off-worlders, belligerent apes, pointy- eared aliens, rocket jockeys, mythical magicians, errant knights, slans, mad scientists, faery queens, and Ming the Merciless.
Yang the Nauseating2 is.
Every world convention committee shall schedule a business meeting, and publicize the time and place of that meeting before the final session of the closing day, but said meeting need not be held in the same city where the convention is meeting. The convention committee may, at its discretion, impose a head-tax on those attending the business meeting.
Article Five, Section 1:
World conventions shall be held annually, or more often when practicable, anywhere within the geographical confines of the forty-eight continental States; except, that they may be held in either of the two remaining States, or in the Colonies overseas, when the sponsoring bodies at those foreign locations provide free transportation to and from a United States coastal port; and further, when the sponsoring bodies at those foreign locations persuade the current sitting committee to allow their bid to be debated in open meeting. For such purposes of persuasion, guile, threats, and bribery may be deemed permissible behavior.
There shall be no particular order of progression from one convention site to the next3, and any sponsoring body at any city within the geographical confines of the forty-eight continental States may bid for a convention at any time of their choosing, providing only that they notify the chairing officer of the business meeting before the close of that meeting, and before the results of the balloting, if any, are announced.
When the sponsoring bodies at foreign locations make such bids, the Colonies of Great Britain and Australia shall enjoy preference and priority; providing, persuasion provided to the sitting committee as outlined above shall have been paid in United States currency.
George Scithers4 shall be parliamentarian in perpetuity of the business meetings, or longer if he chooses.
All sums of money obtained by and from the membership fees, auctions, art shows, huckster tables, program sales, head-taxes, fines, duties, and imposts of every nature shall remain the sole property of the sponsoring committee; and further, their unpaid debts remaining after the close of the convention shall not be due, but shall be binding on the next committee.
All program offerings including workshops, panels, special meetings, dinners, speeches, movies, chalk talks, award ceremonies, auctions, demonstrations of magic and legerdemain, guest appearances, costume extravaganzas, television and film previews, seminars, juggling exhibitions, debates, business sessions, bidding and balloting, cockfights, dancing, honorary teas, dum-dums, club meetings, art shows, body-painting, light shows, huckstering, opening and closing ceremonies, meet the author parties, tightrope walking, duelling, autographing sessions, genre lunches, banquet, Hugos, Elmers, lectures, slide shows, filk singing, parachute drops, and trivia quizzes may be omitted from the program at the discretion of the sponsoring committee; except, that one orgy per night shall be mandatory. Film and television cameramen shall be barred from these last activities.
Inasmuch as these Articles are deemed enough in themselves, and this Constitution held as a perfected whole, any and all Amendments are prohibited.
1. MidAmeriCon’s programming was held in its two main hotels, the Radisson Muehlebach and nearby Phillips House. Two of its larger evening events were held in the nearby Music Hall in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium.
2. The name that the late fantasy and science fiction writer Robert Lynn Aspirin adopted for his activities in both the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and in science fiction fandom.
3. During the original MidAmeriCon era, a Worldcon bid city had to fall within three defined North American geographic zones that rotated east, midwest, and west, the cycle then repeating. Overseas Worldcon bids were allowed during any year, regardless of the rotation zone. This 1975 essay offers proof-positive that Bob Tucker was the first fan to propose dropping the three-zone bidding rotation system decades before this action was finally adopted for Worldcons by a vote of The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS).
4. For many years, the late George Scithers was not only a well-known fan, but a Hugo Award-winning fanzine editor, a Worldcon chair (1962), a small press book publisher (Owlswick Press), and a frequent Worldcon business meeting parliamentarian; he once again served in that capacity in 1976 at MidAmeriCon. Scithers was also a twice Hugo Award-winning professional editor (Isaac Asimov’s SF Magazine), a twice World Fantasy Award-winning professional editor (Weird Tales magazine and for Life Achievement), and a professional book anthologist.