First, a few words about me and how I got here. I've been a reader of sf and fantasy from an early age, and my exposure to organized fandom began in 1986 when I arrived at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with my introduction to Chimera, UNC's sf/fantasy club. In 1990 I managed ChimeraCon VI.
In 1997, Chimera died. Some of us were bemoaning the death of the group when the lightbulb over my head went off - why not start a club of our own? Thus was born the Research Triangle Science Fiction Society. Seven months later, the idea for a convention was given form with the organization of Trinoc-coN, co-founded by myself and Leigh Martin, the leader of a local sf/fantasy writers group, the Revisionaries.
Additionally, I 've been compiling a history of Chimera, to ensure that the memory of the group lives on. At the suggestion of Judy Bemis, I joined the Southern Fandom Confederation in September 1998 and found the online version of the SFC Handbook & History of Southern Fandom. I noticed some errors in the North Carolina section, which is how I ended up here, writing this history of fandom in Chapel Hill and surrounding areas.
Since I didn't arrive in Chapel Hill until 1986, information about years prior to that is from interviews with the following helpful souls: Dan Reid, Tom Galloway, Chuck Andrews, Paul Thompson, Carolyn Waterson Wallace, and Rick McGee. Some of the interview notes were transcribed by Phil Lee, the next-to-last Chimera President, from a meeting he and I had with Dan, Paul and Rick in the spring of 1997.
Let me start with a request: I'm by no means the oldest or most knowledgeable fan in NC, so if you have corrections or additions to the information I've provided here, please let me know (contact info is at the end of the article).
March 20, 1976 - the first StellarCon at UNC-Greensboro, with Jack Townsend as GOH.
1977 - Larry Shapiro opens The Foundation Bookstore in Chapel Hill; at that time it was the only science fiction and fantasy bookstore in the state.
1977 ('78?) - The guest of honor for the first StellarCon, Jack Townsend, and some of his friends organized a one-day SF fest held at the public library in Lenoir, NC. Dan Reid says, "it was quite successful and eventually grew into a full-fledged con that lasted until around 1985 or so." As an aside, Jack is now world-famous as a maker and seller of Ruby Slipper shoes, painstaking recreations from The Wizard of Oz.
In 1978, there was an sf club in existence at UNC, simply called "The UNC Science Fiction and Fantasy Club". I havenāt been able to find the founders of this club and would appreciate any information on them.
Tom Galloway talks about his introduction to this group:
"In those days the Carolina Union had a projector style large screen TV in the lounge on the second floor which overlooked the information desk. The club arranged for it to show the 2 hour premiere of Battlestar Galactica.
As people know now, and quickly realized at the time, Battlestar Ponderosa was pretty bad. But beforehand, people had hopes for it. So there was a crowd of around a hundred people watching. This was the first 'new thing' after the original release of Star Wars after all.
Eventually came the climatic scene. The Cylons are closing in on the Galactica (Boy were they closing in. The person watching the sensors was saying, '20 microns and closing...10 microns and closing'. The majority of the audience who knew that micron is an actual measurement unit was going, 'DAMN, they're close!').
Suddenly, the signing of the Camp David Peace Accords pre-empted the Cylon attack. As the ceremony stretched on toward 11 pm (the Unionās closing time), the station announced that once the signing was over, they would rebroadcast the BG ending.
At 10:55, with the ceremony still going on, one of the two people at the Information Desk downstairs got on the PA system and the following dialogue ensued:
PA system: 'The Carolina Union will be closing in five minutes...'
100 people overlooking the Desk: 'HELL NO!'
PA system: '...except that we will stay open until Battlestar Galactica is over.'
100 people: 'THANK YOU!'
PA System: 'You're welcome.'"
The club faded away during the course of that school year, but in the fall of 1980, Tom decided to try to restart it:
"This was helped by the Student Union film committee deciding to do an sf film marathon. Only specific film I recall was Five Million Years to Earth, one of the Quatermass films. That and the theme of one film from each decade from the 40s through the 70s. I got consulted on what films would be good choices, and in exchange for my advice I got to stand up before each film was shown and pitch the sf club. "
Spring 1981 - Tom went to UNC-Greensboro's StellarCon as part of his job at the Foundation bookstore (to participate in the con's Dealers' Room). While there, Tom encountered a "fairly hyper" high school senior who expressed an interest in UNCās sf club.
Personality conflicts and overloaded class schedules conspired to collapse the group again. Tom left for grad school and the club was left with two members, Paul Thompson and Dan Reid. As Tom says, "I figured if they were interested, Paul and Danny would continue it."
September 1981 - Tom was back at UNC for a weekend, and while he was strolling across campus, the aforementioned hyper high schooler, now college freshman, spotted him and inquired again about the group. Tom figured that with a whopping two members left it'd be pretty much dead, so he gave out the remaining membersā names and wished the young man luck.
The young man was one Robert Hurt. The club eventually became Chimera. Robert continued his trend of creating sf clubs by forming another one, Enigma, at UCLA where he went to grad school in 1985.
Fall 1981 - Dan Reid began to work on the new incarnatinon of the group, with the addition of Robert Hurt's enthusiastic assistance. Dan was President from 1981-83. At some point during 1981-82 while sitting in the Student Union Dan, Robert, and other folks were trying to find a name for the club. Chuck Andrews, Guardians of Light and Time founder, was there and armed with a thesaurus. Their attempts at making an acronym failed, despite inspiration by the movie C.H.U.D. Eventually, "Chimera" came about at Chuck's suggestion. [Last year, RTSFS underwent a similar search for a name ö I really wanted us to have our acronym be RTFM.]
The sf club's Halloween Costume party in 1981 had reverberations that could not have been predicted at the time.
Chuck Andrews feels that this party was, "absolutely critical to the formation of Chimera, the Guardians of Light and Time, and the Student Microcomputer Users Group. Without this meeting, many diverse organizations might never have formed. It impacted directly on events that might seem unrelated":
1) the high number of Sci-Fi programs televised by the UNC Center for Public Television in the 80's (Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Red Dwarf, The Prisoner and others) which was due partly to the fact that GoLT members and Chimera members worked at the station's fundraisers, and while they didn't directly lobby for them to show more SF, UNC-TV was able to see that cheap, British sci-fi was a good investment. (Dan says, " I remember Chuck, dressed as the Master, telling audiences that 'there are times when the forces within the universe upset the cosmic balance so badly that the entire universe is in danger of -- eternal chaos! Unless you send your pledge to UNC-TV!'")
2) the formation, years later, of the Filmmakers Workshop which was founded by Dan and Chuck- they assisted Black Mariah with Night of the Living Debs, produced and filmed the profitable play, After Magritte, and built the platform stage at the Chapel Hill Senior Center. Some of the members (like Black Mariah) would have succeeded without Filmmakers, but for many others, this was their start.
3) the Village Community Theater - started by Chuck as competition for Playmakers in Chapel Hill; for their first production, they staged Incident at San Bajo to good reviews and a profit.
4) the Renaissance Coffeehouse - started Jeff Burcher as an offshoot from the Village Community Theater - it existed for one season as an official program of the ArtsCenter. Chuck says, "We had some fine music, readings, and other offerings, but the work was to time-consuming and hard on the small organizing committee, so we broke up at the end of the season."
5) Robert Hurt's founding of the Student Microcomputer Users Group (SMUG), with some overlap with Chimera and the other groups.
6) the big Halloween bash on Franklin Street. In 1981, Chuck says, "When the proto-Chimerans walked the Street, we were nearly alone and were the only people in costume. It has, of course, grown every year since." [In 1998, police estimated the Franklin Street crowd to be around 70,000 people.]
Spring or Summer 1982 - Hudsoncon, at Caldwell Community College. Dan Reid talks about this con, "it was a con in Hudson, NC (near Lenoir), that a bunch of Chimera people went to ... everyone had a heck of a time, and I believe it was the first con for a lot of the Chimera folk, and the first one other than StellarCon for most of the rest. The next year, the con was held in Hickory with Sarah Douglas the actress as a guest. I don't remember what that con was actually called." Chuck Andrews on Hudsoncon, "we saw Swamp Thing, the first episode of Dr. Who, one of the actual SeaView sub models, and learned that Walter Koenig is a very, very hairy man (think gorilla arms!)." [More information on this con would be appreciated.]
March 1983 - Dan Reid and Dorothy Wright went to StellarCon in Greensboro, which featured Michael Bishop as a guest. They was inspired and wanted to see the UNC group run a con, so they talked with Allen Wold for a couple of hours, got some ideas on running a con, and became excited by the prospect. They were able to get the Student Union to give them some space and con planning began.
Spring 1983 - Gene Roddenberry speaks at the NC State campus, in the basketball stadium (Reynolds Auditorium). He showed the original cut of The Menagerie. Dan again, "What I remember most vividly was the near demise of much of Chapel Hill fandom when on the way back, Chuck (accidentally) drove the car into the oncoming traffic lane of a divided highway. The situation was quickly rectified. And my rectum stayed puckered for a while afterwards."
Summer 1983 - John Pertwee & Elizabeth Sladen visit UNC. Carolyn Waterson Wallace remembers, "It was summer, and the Dr. Who Fan Club of America was doing an American tour with Jon Pertwee (Dr. #3) and Elizabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane). Chuck Andrews was President of GoLT and he and I were about the only UNC club members still in residence (we also had a Raleigh woman named Kathryn Keeter and an NCSU student named John Warman - from the NC State Friends of Dr. Who club). As the local fan club, we decided to welcome the guests to UNC. The actors stayed at the Carolina Inn and we got permission to leave presents in their rooms. We had roses for Ms. Sladen and Mrs. Pertwee, homemade fruit baskets, and musical greeting cards (just out then, and all the rage!) for Ms. Sladen and Mr. Pertwee... The leader of the tour told us that Mr. Pertwee had come running out of his hotel room to show him the musical card, saying he had never seen anything like it. Ms. Sladen admitted that when she first opened the card, she threw it across the room, thinking it was a letter bomb. Then as the melody became recognizable ("As Time Goes By"), she realized everything was all right. Someone from Raleigh had built a full-scale model of the Police Box/TARDIS, which we had on display at the Student Union. WUNC-TV used the model to videotape some promos with Mr. Pertwee and Ms. Sladen, but incompetence on their part destroyed the tapes so they were never used." Chuck concurs, "they knew they had destroyed the tapes before Pertwee and Sladen left the studio -- they didn't ask for a reshoot because it would reveal their incompetence!" Chuck suggests that this TARDIS model may have been built by Rowell Gorman of Raleigh (who now appears every so often on locally-produced commercials).
November 19-20, 1983 - CONTRAST. Before the first ChimeraCon, the Guardians of Light and Time planned a Dr. Who convention in Chapel Hill. CONTRAST stood for "CONvention of TRAvellers in Space and Time". Chuck Andrews again, "We were screwed by Howard Henry, Director of the Union, and at the last minute had to transfer the entire event to the Student Union at NCSU. I mention this for two reasons. 1) The successes shown by the impromptu visit of Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen to UNC (summer '83), CONTRAST and the many StellarCons was a powerful impetus to Chimera members to host a convention. Although Dorothy did a fantastic job of organizing and managing the first Con, she was greatly helped by the fact that she didn't have to spend a huge amount of time convincing folks it was possible, and that it could be successful. 2) It would not have been possible to host the first ChimeraCon at the Student Union had Guardians not fought Howard Henry for over half a year about "commercial" uses of the Union. Although the Black Student Movement had a lock on the Great Hall every Friday night, and often charged for events, no other student group was semi-officially allowed to charge and host vendors until ChimeraCon I. This was a direct result of the hard battle between CONTRAST and the Union the previous year. I personally lost several hundred dollars in wasted advertising costs because of Howard's lies and incompetence."
Chuck did all the work of securing the space at the UNC Student Union; he, Carolyn Waterson Wallace, and other GoLT members had organized all the programming, and he paid for all the advertising out of his own pocket. When the group was denied by the UNC Student Union Director, Chuck contacted some friends in the Dr. Who club at NC State (Friends of Dr. Who) in Raleigh and asked that the con be relocated to the NC State campus. Chuck took the time to drive over to NCSU and made the necessary arrangements for the con to still happen. Unfortunately, the folks at NC State decided to take all the credit and claim that they had organized CONTRAST all by themselves, never mentioning the hard work that Chuck and GoLT had put into it (going so far as to not even mention anyone from Chapel Hill in the program book thanks). This definitely soured relations between fan groups at the two campuses.
April 8, 1984 - Dorothy Wright chaired ChimeraCon I, a one-day event at the UNC Student Union. This first event was co-sponsored by the Guardians of Light and Time, the Student Microcomputer Users' Group, and the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies (Di-Phi are the two oldest student organizations at UNC, established in 1795). Guests at the first ChimeraCon were: Manly Wade Wellman as Guest of Honor, Dr. Jeffrey M. Elliot, David Drake, John Kessel and Allen Wold.
Labor Day, 1984 - Dan Breen buys The Foundation Bookstore from Larry Shapiro and renames it Second Foundation.
November 1984 - CONTRAST 2 - The folks at NC State decided to do another Dr. Who convention in 1984; they didn't ask for any assistance or advice from GoLT (who had created and planned the first one). It was to have happened on the weekend of November 16-18, 1984 at the Mission Valley Inn in Raleigh, with Jon Pertwee and Elizabeth Sladen as the featured guests. Their lack of experience in actually organizing an event like this (Chuck figures that they didn't take into account the cost of getting the guests here) contributed to the cancellation of the con. An additional factor in the cancellation was that the Con Manager's husband, who had provided financial backing for the con, left her just prior to the con, skipping town with the con's funds. No refunds were given, "Friends of Doctor Who" died, and CONTRAST 2 never happened.
January 26-27, 1985 - ChimeraCon II - The Outer Limits Cantina first appeared at this con, inspired by the "No-Talent" Show at StellarCon. GOH: Karl Edward Wagner. Other guests: Allen L. Wold, David Drake, John Kessel, Joe Bergeron, Orson Scott Card, M. A. Foster, Frances Garfield, C. Bruce Hunter, Gregg Keizer, Walter E. Meyers, Mark L. Van Name, Manly Wade Wellman. Manager: Dorothy Wright.
1985-86 - Conglomacon/Event Horizon - This was the first attempt to create a Triangle-wide science fiction convention. The idea was to get Chimera together with the clubs at Duke in Durham and NC State in Raleigh to jointly run a Triangle SF convention. Feelings on this issue ran surprisingly high, and there were several heated debates among various Chimera members. Consequently, the event never got off the ground.
January 25-26, 1986 - ChimeraCon III - Bad weather led to a corresponding drop in turnout, despite an organized advertising campaign. Some of the proceeds from this con were later donated to the estate of Manly Wade Wellman, who passed away on April 5, 1986. GOH: Orson Scott Card. Other guests: Gregory Frost, Gregg Keizer, Roger MacBride Allen, M. A. Foster, David Drake, John J. Kessel, Walter E. Meyers, Mark L. Van Name, Allen L. Wold, C. Bruce Hunter, Christopher John Adams, Alex Roland, Chuck Wojtkiewicz. Managers: Karen K. Fisher, Joyce Mahoney Felder.
April 4, 1986 - Harlan Ellison speaks at the UNC campus. Dan Reid was the main force behind getting Ellison invited to speak; it was the presence of Manly Wade Wellman and his wife Frances that prompted Ellison to accept. This visit is mentioned in the introduction to Ellison's Angry Candy (a very sad and moving story - Wellman died the next day and Ellison missed seeing him by half an hour). [from Carolyn Waterson Wallace's notes.]
January 1987 - ChimeraCon IV - GOH: Allen Wold. Other guests: Orson Scott Card, John M. Ford, Bernadette Bosky, Dan Breen (owner, Second Foundation), David Drake, David George, Gregg Keizer, A. J. Mayhew, Walter Meyers, Tom Poston, Paul B. Thompson, Mark L. Van Name, Christopher Stasheff. Managers: Rusty Williams, Todd Medlin.
January 29-31, 1988 - ChimeraCon V - GOH: Nancy Springer. Other guests: Orson Scott Card, Allen Wold, Colleen Doran.
Chimera was fortunate in that by this time, Dave Drake, John Kessel and Allen Wold had become established, recurring guests; this helped ensure that the early cons had a strong literary flavor.
During the 80's and early 90's, Chimera made regular donations to the Orange County Literacy Council. After all, if people can't read, they can't read sf.
November 1988 - Silvercon in Asheville, a one-time event to raise money for the estate of Manly Wade Wellman.
Spring 1989 - The first ChimeraFest fiasco (those who forget the past·). In 1989, there was no one to run the con, so there was an attempt to raise money by having a ChimeraFest, where the club rented film reels and showed them for a small admission fee. The films shown were Bride of the Monster and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Unfortunately, no one came, and the club's bank acount was $20 on the wrong side of positive.
In later years, people would be forced at gunpoint to be Chimera officers (hence the decline in the quality of leadership), but Spring Semester 1989 featured a hotly-contested race for the 1989-90 Presidency. The margin of victory was very slim, and there was so much controversy over the use of proxy votes and absentee ballots that the officers called a revote. People picked sides, and friendships were strained - some never recovered. The revote was a major fracture point in the social order of my generation of Chimerans. When I became Con Manager the following year, I struggled to reunite these two factions, with mixed results. I recall shuttling back and forth from the original informal lunch table gatherings to the new lunch gatherings started by the splinter group. Despite my best efforts, the two groups would not come together, and the club suffered for it.
March 2-4, 1990 ö ChimeraCon VI. GOH: Rob Bell, writer and game designer for Hero Games. Other guests: John Kessel, Allen Wold, Paul B. Thompson, Tonya R. Carter, Dr. Sheridan Simon, Mark L. Van Name, Doctors in the House, Cheralyn Lambeth. Manager: Laura Haywood.
Let me state for the record that I never wanted to be the Con Manager. Think Gilligan's Island: "You can't make me, you can't make me, you can't make me!" In the end, it came down to this - either I would find an assistant to run the actual event in my absence (I was committed to the College Bowl regional tournament in Memphis), or there would be no ChimeraCon that year. The previous year's ChimeraFest left a bad taste in our mouths, and we wanted a convention. So we took the chance, I named Susan Keeler to be my assistant, and off we went.
To quote Vice President Charles Overbeck:
"We were a desperate lot in the beginning · we started out the year 20 dollars in the hole and set the machinery of fundraising in motion ... most of the money came from the Hellacious Dean Dome Cleanups [The Dean Dome is the 24,000 seat Dean E. Smith Center, home of the UNC men's basketball team]. Who can forget those thrilling three-hour tours of Purgatory, picking up nachos and popcorn and spilled drinks and who knows what else? And who can forget that wacko chick from Blethen Temporaries who skipped town with all our checks, on the run from her boyfriend, the cops and probably space aliens as well? Everyone who attended these hell-fests deserves a gold star, and you can quote me on that."
As Charles said, "maybe you can be happy without money, but you sure as hell can't hold a science fiction/fantasy convention!"
That was why I (as Con Manager) asked resident artist Carolyn Waterson Wallace to incorporate a phoenix on the program cover design that year - we went from 20 dollars down to turning a profit in less than a year, truly Chimera rising from the ashes.
1991 - ChimeraCon VII - GOH: Bruce Sterling. Other guests: John Kessel, Allen Wold, Lisa Cantrell, Paul B. Thompson, Dr. Sheridan Simon, Mark L. Van Name, Fred Chappell (Saturday only), Jo Wyrick, Gavin and Yvonne Frost. Manager: Shannon Turlington, Assistant Manager: Cindy Bowman. This con featured Sterling's lecture on the links between various bohemian groups and SF, and the good-natured debates between Sterling and Kessel on the Humanist/Cyberpunk divide.
February 14-16, 1992 - ChimeraCon VIII. GOH: Connie Willis. Other guests: Bernadette Bosky, Poppy Z. Brite, Brett Cox, Lisa Cantrell, Arthur Hlavaty, John Kessel, Holly Lisle, Mark L. Van Name, Allen Wold, Jo Wyrick. Manager: Elizabeth Wyrick. Assistant Manager: Amy Griswold.
By the mid 90's the club's membership had changed from being mostly physics majors with a lot of crossover with the Society of Physics Students, Di-Phi, the UNC Astronomy Club, and the local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) to a more diversified group. There was also a shift in the focus of the club; where Dan founded the group with a literary focus, and Robert featured a lot more in the way of media fandom, Chimera had become primarily a gaming club.
1994 - Cerebral Hobbies, a gaming store, opened its doors on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. Chimera's gaming activities began a slow migration from campus to Cerebral Hobbies, which has gaming rooms attached to the store. Second Foundation sold all of its gaming stock to Cerebral and remains a going concern as a book and comic store.
Later cons reflected the shift toward gaming and were almost exclusively gaming-only events with no writers, artists or media guests. The last con was ChimeraCon XI, held April 12-14, 1996, in Murphy Hall on the UNC campus. It was a gaming and anime con (the anime was being shown in room 100 of Hamilton Hall, also on the main part of campus). Mike Moon, who is now the Trinoc*coN Art Chair, did the artwork for the program and T-shirts. Phil Lee and Greg Dreher were the Con Managers.
Why Chimera died has been an ongoing debate; I 've heard as many theories as there are ex-Chimerans floating around to espouse them. From my perspective, what happened was this: the officers didn't take the time and effort to recruit underclassmen, and eventually the pool of people who were both interested in belonging to the group and capable of leading it became smaller and smaller, until no one was left. Trying to find someone, anyone, to run the club became a sad sort of "Pin The Chimera Presidency on The Student" game. This does NOT ensure quality leadership. The last President organized a poorly-attended gaming-only ChimeraFest in April 1997, then graduated without having handed leadership over to anyone with an interest in saving Chimera. The group lost its recognition as an official student organization in the Fall 1997 semester, and to this day no one has come forward to resurrect it.
I hear rumors that there are some UNC freshmen interested in starting up a gaming club on campus. It won't have the Chimera name, which is as it should be. Maybe this signifies a resurgence of interest in the imaginative, and perhaps one day there will be a science fiction and fantasy club at UNC again.
The Guardians of Light & Time. Chuck Andrews, founder of The Guardians of Light and Time, talks about GoLT's origin and demise.
Chuck's sister who was stationed in England briefly during the 1970s alerted him to a British show called "Dr. Who". When the local public television station began showing episodes, he tuned in for a few and at thought it was "really really stupid." For lack of anything else on TV after school he continued to watch it and eventually grew accustomed to the British sense of humor - he was hooked.
"Chimera and the Guardians of Light and Time were both children of the older UNC Science Fiction/Fantasy Club. Both, in a sense, germinated at that club's Halloween party initiated by Dan Reid in October, 1981.
In the fall of 1981, I enrolled at UNC-CH. After I signed Dan's interest list for the UNC Science Fiction/Fantasy Club, Dan called to tell me of the club's Halloween/Costume party. Although I did not dress up as a 'Who' character, I did bring along a box of Who photos and memorabilia. Carolyn (Waterson) Wallace, dressed as the Doctor, and Anne (Worth) Sayer, as Sarah Jane Smith were immediately interested, though they were terrified of me (the costume, I hope). " Witnesses described Chuck's costume as a brown wig over his face, with invisible eye holes, so that he looked like the spitting image of Cousin Itt.
Chuck realized that there were several groups across the campus who watched the show, and he decided to try and bring them all together for a party.
"The Guardians of Light and Time was born at the (first) '749th Birthday for the Doctor' held at 7 pm on Friday, November 20th, 1981 in Room 220 of the Student Union. I expected about 20 attendees, but more than 50 showed up. We filled the small room and spilled out into the hallway. It was all very campy and lots of fun.
We 'officially' organized at the next meeting on January 22, 1982. This was the Friday night of the VERY bad ice storm (the worst winter storm in this part of NC in the 1980's). I was expecting around 50 people, but more than 100 showed. Some had driven through the storm from as far away as East Carolina University (in Greenville NC, about 2 hours' drive under ideal road conditions). Unbelievable. At this meeting, I was elected Chairman, while Carolyn Waterson, Kevin Council, Boyd Faulkner, Rex Moody and Leick Robinson were elected Vice Chairpersons. By the way, every vote ever held by the Guardian membership during its first year was unanimous -- the people were that caught up in the moment.
Like most organizations, the Guardians began a slow slide into irrelevance, inaction, repetition and purposelessness as the years went by. At the end of her term as Chairperson in 1984, Diane Whitworth (who, herself, was in no way irrelevant or inactive) presented for consideration the name of a person to replace her in '85. Before the (now small) group of attendees was given the opportunity to vote, I made a very fiery speech suggesting that instead of voting for a new slate of officers, we instead vote to euthanize the dying group. Following an hour of impassioned pleading, the group finally decided to follow my advice. The Guardians of Light and Time, unanimously, although reluctantly, voted to disband that night (late spring, 1984).
The final event under the Guardians name was the '5th Annual 749th Birthday Party' which I threw on November 22, 1986. A very small group attended, we toasted the old times, and so ended an era."
The UNC Gaming Club (this group was eventually subsumed into Chimera, or as some people see it, took over Chimera - depending on who you ask). Information courtesy of Fred Petrick, first president of the Gaming Club:
"There was an active D&D Club on campus during my first year at UNC ('84-'85). During the summer of '86, Carl Buehler, who was the NC RPGA president for several years, and I came up with the idea of using the D&D Club to sponsor a gaming con on campus. Relations between Chimera and the D&D Club were strained at best, I think because the D&D Club hadn't been allowed to run gaming at a ChimeraCon before my time. However, the D&D Club had lost its recognition as an official student organization. Thus, we started the Gaming Club.
The basic idea was to get a weekly place for people to game. We drew up a constitution and various policies, decided on officers. I was president because I was a student, Carl wasn't. Michael Weaver, a grad student in history at the time, was also an officer -- vice president, I think. We plastered the campus with flyers announcing the first (weeknight) meeting.
That meeting was almost a disaster. I started talking about gaming resources around Chapel Hill and quickly realized that nobody cared to hear me talk. Luckily, Michael suggested a game. Someone broke out Illuminati, and away we went. After that, we confined meetings to Sunday afternoon gatherings in the Student Union."
In 1989 and 1990, the Gaming Club ran their own mini-con on the UNC campus. It was called Ourcon, for reasons unknown to me. After Carl left, the Gaming Club fell into disarray, and most of the gamers either joined up with Chimera or didn't bother.
Other Miscellaneous Groups. During part of my time at UNC-Chapel Hill (1986-90), there was a Comic Book club on campus, and a few years after I graduated a Star Wars club formed. I don't know the fate of either of these two student organizations, although neither appears to exist at the moment.
Thanks to Bud Webster, who forwarded me D. Gary Grady's name and email address, I've gotten a few more pieces of the Triangle fandom puzzle. As already noted in the NC section of the SFC Handbook & History, Gary mentions the active comics fandom in Durham in the late 1960s and early 1970s thanks to the brothers Edwin and Terry Murray, who for a while held "surprisingly well-attended quarterly sf/comics conventions in their parents' home on Chapel Hill Road, complete with films and a Dealers' room."
Additionally, Gary briefly mentioned the Nameless Order of R'leh in Raleigh, which as he recalls, "was Scott Whiteside and a few others; a typical meeting had about 4 people."
Silvercon took place in Asheville at the Hilton Hotel (now the Holiday Inn Resort) in November of 1988. While not directly a Chapel Hill or Triangle event, it's an example of the generosity of the fans of North Carolina and beyond. This information is courtesy of Nicky Rea, long-time Asheville resident and freelance writer for White Wolf, TSR/Wizards of the Coast and Holistic Design (Fading Suns):
"Silvercon was conceived and organized by the members of the Alternate Realities science fiction club (now non-existent) as a way of raising money for Frances Wellman, Manly Wade Wellman's widow. The Wellmans were friends of a club member -- Ralph Roberts, a local writer and now a local publisher (World Comm) and he wanted to do something to help out Mrs. Wellman, who was in dire financial straits after her husband's death from complications due to diabetes.
Some of the organizers were, in no particular order, Ralph Roberts; John Baumgarten, the owner of a gaming, comics and music store which was then called Record Survival and is now called Pastimes; Nicky Rea; Jackie Cassada, a library worker who was/is the sf columnist for Library Journal and now freelances for White Wolf and Holistic Design; Carla Hollar, a library worker (now in library school) who is currently helping compile the Dragonlance index for TSR/Wizards; Jeff Brittain, now a local DJ for WZLS and a long-time sf fan and trivia expert; his former wife Jackie Brittain; Jim Crabtree, a freelance artist who has worked for TSR/Wizards, White Wolf, Chaosium, and a bunch of other game companies, and some other people whose names I no longer remember.
Guests included Ralph Roberts; Milton Ready (a history professor and Appalachian literature and history expert); Rembert Parker, the author of a large number of tournaments for the RPGA; the artist Mary Hanson Roberts; and others.
Harlan Ellison was invited to the con and, although he couldn't make it, he was kind enough to write a long letter for the con to auction off; TSR artist Jeff Easley contributed an original drawing for the auction as well. As far as I can remember, there were about 100 people at the con and we raised around $1200 for Frances Wellman."
The Wellmans had a vacation home in the mountains and lived in Chapel Hill for over 30 years (Frances Wellman still lives here). They were very well-regarded; according to those who knew Manly, he was not only a talented writer but a kind man and always a friend to Chimera. I regret that I didn't arrive at UNC in time to meet him.
Since one of the errors I wanted to correct was an apparent confusion of UNC-G's Science Fiction Fantasy Federation/StellarCon and UNC-CH's Chimera/ChimeraCon, I asked the folks at UNC-G to send me information about the SF3 and StellarCon. I hope it clears up any lingering confusion about the two schools and their respective clubs and conventions:
SF3 began in 1975 as the Star Trek Club. It soon became apparent that they needed to expand their horizons to include other forms of SF and Fantasy so they changed the name and the constitution was recognized in Fall 1976. Organized by Denise Descouzis, SF3 is designed as an outlet for those interested Fantasy, Science Fiction, Comic Books, and Cinema...basically anything that in some way, shape, or form relates to the genre. The Student Government of UNCG sponsors the club, but meetings are open to anyone.
On March 20, 1976, SF3 held the first StellarCon as a one-day mini convention whose main guest was Jack Townsend, then the president of the Walter Koenig Fan Club. Since then StellarCon has grown to a 3-day event whose guests have included Walter Koenig, author Larry Niven, as well as many others! The conventions were held on the campus of UNCG until StellarCon 16 in 1992 when Jeff Smith, the convention manager that year, took it off campus for the first time to a local hotel. StellarCon 23 will take place March 19-21, 1999 at the Holiday Inn in High Point.
SF3 has organized other conventions through the years including Hexacon, Anothercon and LepraCon.
As well as sponsoring films, speakers and trips, the club also organizes its own literary magazine, Beyond the Third Planet.
For more information, check out the Science Fiction Fantasy Federation website.
[Note: They're too modest to mention it themselves, but StellarCon is the longest-running annual fan-run convention in the state.]
The Research Triangle Science Fiction Society was founded in August of 1997 as a discussion forum and social outlet for Triangle-wide fans of speculative fiction in all its forms: print, TV, and movies, as well as for related activities such as RPGs. We have grown from a core group of 4 (the original Benevolent Dictators of RTSFS: myself, Dan Reid, Paul Cory and Larry Iversen) to having over 20 dues-paying members, with even more showing up for meetings and participating on the email list, which has 75 subscribers.
RTSFS doesn't have a traditional club 'zine; most of what would be found in one is either on the website or the discussion list (book and movie reviews, con reports). We are looking for ways to expand our membership to those who don't have email access and suggestions would be most welcome.
We meet twice monthly; in the past year we have had book discussions, guest speakers, an astronomy night, local authors' panels, cookouts, potlucks, and movie nights, to name a few. Membership is open to everyone; dues are $10/year. Officers are: President - Laura Haywood-Cory, Vice President - Ron Olson, Treasurer - Judy Bemis, Secretary - Shannon Sudderth, Social Coordinator - Diane Kurilecz.
Research Triangle Science Fiction Society
c/o Ron Olson, Vice President
PO Box 90821
Raleigh, NC 27675
(919) 968-3868 (not after 9pm please)
Trinoc*-oN is a fan-run, non-profit speculative fiction convention in the Triangle area. Last's year's con (Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2000) was a staggering success for a first-year con, with almost 600 attendees. The 2001 con is shaping up to be even better.
Trinoc-coN was founded on March 7, 1998 by Leigh Martin and myself, with support from RTSFS, Black Rose Productions, the Revisionaries, individuals from the SCA, Raleigh Creative Costumes, HobbyMasters, Cerebral Hobbies, Foundation's Edge and more. The name came about because we wanted something that reflected the Triangle area of the state (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill). "Tricon" had been used for several years by a gaming con on the NC State campus, so we couldn't call ourselves that. We settled on Trinoc*coN and received permission from Larry Niven to use the name "Trinoc", so we got both the "Tri" of Triangle to reflect our geographic location, AND it's a literary reference - can't beat that, huh? Weāve run several well-attended and successful fundraisers in our short nine months of existence, and we cheerfully accept ideas, volunteers, monetary donations, and chocolate.
PO Box 10633
Raleigh, NC 27605-0633
I encourage you to check out the Links section of the RTSFS website. If you're a member of one of the groups listed, or know of other groups that should be on the list, please contact me with the URL. Thanks.