Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

June Books 6) With Stars In My Eyes

6) With Stars In My Eyes: My Adventures in British Fandom, by Peter Weston

I had been trying to get this as it was a Hugo nominee; already cast my vote by the time the book arrived, but thought it would be educational reading anyway, as the story of one of the leading figures in British science fiction fandom of the last forty years, indeed the man who actually makes the Hugo awards, despite never having won one..

And indeed I enjoyed reading it. I don't think I've met (in the flesh) a single person named in this book; I attended a couple of speeches made by Terry Pratchett when I was an undergraduate, but that hardly counts. However I instantly felt I was reading a book by someone like me, about other people like me. I'm a relatively recent arrival in the world of active sf fandom (attended my first sf con only three years ago), but already feel very much at home in it. And my natural inclination is towards the more intellectual discussion of sf that it would appear Weston was trying to promote back in the '60s and '70s, so I feel naturally sympathetic to his Grad Project, such as it was.

I also had a serious flirtation with a slightly different hobby in my late teens and mid 20s, that being the postal games (esp Diplomacy) scene, full of zines whose lettercolumns seethed with controversy - usually on the political issues of the day (I remember huge fights over Northern Ireland with Joy Hibbert, later Joy Hilbert) but often just personality based - who, I wonder, other than ceemage or wwhyte, can now remember the acrimonious circumstances of Pete Tamlyn folding The Acolyte? So the sf fanzine scene of twenty years before seems very familiar.

That is really thanks to the way Weston tells the story, with enough information about individuals that I like to think I'd recognise key protagonists from his description if I bump into them in the pub in Glasgow or elsewhere. He is detached enough to recount his own mistakes in managing interpersonal relationships over the years of his involvement to make you feel comfortable with his narrative, and also to make you sympathise all the more on the one or two occasions where his feelings clearly haven't cooled down after the passage of decades.

I especially liked the occasional vignettes of people who I have at least heard of, though I'm struck that those I really wanted to hear more about are all those at the same literary end of fandom where Weston placed himself and where I'd like to place myself - Terry Pratchett, Tom Shippey, chilperic. My biggest frustration was that I'd have liked to hear more about the various cons described only briefly; on cool reflection, it's an unreasonable criticism, based purely on the fact that I used to get con reports ad nauseam from Diplomacy fanzines and also read them eagerly when people post them on my friends-list.

Anyway, I'm sorry this arrived after I'd voted. I'd have put it ahead of The Best of Xero, but still behind The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. I almost wonder if Peter Weston will do the same...

(Incidentally, I know that the last book I wrote up was June book #4 and this is June book #6. June book #5 will be reviewed together with its companion volume when I have finished them both.
Tags: bookblog 2005, sf: hugos
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