Anne Worth wrote of the "first" and "second" generations of Chimeroids: I'll write of the Dark Times that began as the second generation moved on. It was a time of transition in which the old model on which Chimera was based ceased to function and before a new model had been discovered. This isn't a criticism of those that came along after the second generation departed (in particular the Goblins, that formed the core of those that struggled to keep Chimera alive), just a description of the turbulence suffered by Chimera as the focus of its membership changed and the organization struggled to stay alive and financially soluble.
Chimera, as Anne noted, had tremendous overlap with other organizations. Most notable among these were SPS (the Society of Physics Students) and Di-Phi (known for its debates). Indeed, an impromptu survey conducted at the first Chimera meeting I ever attended found that 50% of those present were physics majors!!! In my experience Chimera was at its peak at that point. The club was composed of incredibly bright, creative, involved individuals. Most of the group had strong technical/scientific skills AND were wildly creative and energetic. Chimera's focus tended toward creative work, with several members exhibiting strong creative writing and artistic skills.
ChimeraCon took a great deal of pride during that time as being one the rare breed of literary conventions in a world dominated by media conventions. Open readings of work were conducted in which members would read their own work and then received constructive criticism from the club. Sure, we mobbed opening night for whatever new movies were premiering (usually taking up two entire rows) and watched plenty of videos, but the focus was on the Con (probably 1/2 our meetings consisted largely of Con business) and the literary side of science fiction (reading and writing). The good point of all this was that we had a very cohesive group that worked well together. If there was a downside I would guess that it was that we lacked the adaptability that we would need as the membership evolved.
In the 87-88 school year I found myself president of Chimera. (I think I must have ducked out to the rest room or something since I can't remember how that came about -- surely I wasn't dumb enough to volunteer!) That year was not kind to Chimera and I don't think I'd want to repeat it! The age of the Second Generation was coming to an end. The focus on the literary aspect of science fiction drifted, with more and more new members focused on science fiction and fantasy in film and television. Not a bad thing, just a different focus. Interest in open readings waned and the overlap with the physics department dwindled (much due, I believe, to a change in the kinds of people entering the physics department -- but that's another story), leading to a group that wasn't as tightly knit as it had been historically. The "old crowd" and the new members were all too often pulling in opposite directions. Much as the focus of the Roman Empire departed from Rome to Byzantium, the SPS room became more and more home to the waning "old guard" while the real center moved to the dorms of South Campus and the Goblin Corps.
The new membership did not have the same interest in building ChimeraCon as the previous members did -- or at least not with the same direction. Tensions ran high as the push to increase the size and scope of the convention came face to face with the reality that interest level in actually doing the work was lower than was necessary for the job. I think the new group wanted to move ChimeraCon closer to being a media based con than it had been historically. The con and the club were in real danger of financial disaster. In a foreshadowing of one of the new directions Chimera was destined to take, role-playing stepped in and saved us financially while those of the old guard (like me!) enjoyed the writing seminars and literary events that were the historical focus of ChimeraCon -- Orson Scott Card did a particularly good seminar for budding authors! In the end about 50% of the con's space was devoted to gaming: I believe it was Rick McGee that was responsible for that little miracle. If it wasn't for his efforts we'd probably still be running from creditors!!!
That year was a rough time for Chimera. I was the one of the rear-guard of the old school. Rome was falling... and the Goblins were in the streets. It was time for me to abandon the city and let the new members find their own path: to give Chimera a new look, more formed in their own image. I did not run for a second term as president, instead sticking with the old locus of Chimera and becoming president of SPS (another trip to the bathroom perhaps?). I can see from the other postings (especially Laura's and Phil's) that Chimera never completely recovered from this period. The Goblins did manage to resurrect ChimeraCon by working Dean Dome cleanups until they brought the club back into the black for ChimeraCon VI. I'm not sure, however, that the club really ever found the new focus it needed. I still wonder what I might have done to give the Goblins a better start in building the new Chimera -- but no use crying over milk spilled under the bridge (or something like that)!
Like Laura I hope that some energetic new crowd will sweep into UNC and revive Chimera. Dark Ages tend to be long and very dark indeed. Maybe it just seems that way to those of us that remember the glory days!
As Carolyn always said...
- Kevin -