Don't Try This At Home by David Langford: Introduction
Over the years since 1976 I've produced an absurd number of SF convention reports, in styles ranging from the esoteric to the bloody esoteric. New readers should perhaps begin elsewhere. No, the marketing department says that won't do. New readers should perhaps not begin at the beginning. This is because the later reports (especially those covering larger conventions), from say 1987 to 2014, were written with at least half an eye on a broader audience rather than the manic in-group of British fanzine fandom that formed my target readership even before I'd been accepted by that gang of drunks and layabouts in the late 1970s. So much for wise advice. Be assured that even I no longer understand some of the jokes and spoofs in my early convention coverage.
Although generally adopting a seat-of-the-pants approach, I became briefly theoretical about this fannish literary mode in a talk delivered at the 1997 UK Eastercon:
As to whether I ever rose to this challenge, my literary agent has advised me not to comment.
Let's note a few omissions. My inordinately lengthy account of the 1980 Worldcon in Boston occupies several chapters of my TransAtlantic Fan Fund trip report The TransAtlantic Hearing Aid (1985; ebook 2015), whose full illustrated text is available free from the TAFF website at taff.org.uk. "You Do It with Mirrors" (1993) – a worm's-eye view of the 1993 Jersey Eastercon from the highly distorted perspective of running the convention newsletter – is collected in The Silence of the Langford (1996; ebook 2015), freely available for money. Several other sets of convention notes have been left out because they seemed overly tedious and/or ephemeral – the dustbin of history is lined with far too many one-paragraph summaries written for my newsletter Ansible – or because rereading them made me shudder uncontrollably. On the other hand, just to be on the unsafe side, I have included a spurious report on a convention I didn't actually attend and a searing exposé of a particularly bizarre book launch party.
Now read on. The reports are arranged chronologically, but first you get another introduction. The management, then and now, is not responsible. Safe when used as directed. But don't try this at home.