It’s May, which means that spring cleaning is well underway. It also means that it’s the anniversary of my first venture into entrepreneurship, which was a science fiction convention in Eugene at the then-new Hilton Hotel (I made the arrangements while the hotel was still under construction).
My title for the conference was “Sgt. Preston of the Eucon,” and I rented a Mountie costume for the weekend. We flew in (at considerable expense for those days) Spider Robinson, to continue with a sort of Canadian theme (although that wasn’t the reason; he was one of my favorites at the time and he hadn’t made a lot of appearances on the West Coast; he just happened to be living in Nova Scotia at the time). The brother-in-law of a friend did the illustration of a guy in a spacesuit driving a team of spacesuited dogs, and we were off (Marcel would later do the artwork for my equally successful play-by-mail game venture: GANGLORD. Par for my course, the business plan stank but the artwork was great.)
I don’t remember much about that weekend myself. I do know we (rather, I) ended up severely in hock and had to get my folks to bail me out. The amount wasn’t large by today’s standards, but considering that this was the depth of the Reagan Recession (how’s that for perfect timing on my part?) and that I was laid off from my meagrely-paid bookselling job about that time, it seemed insurmountable. Then, of course, naivete and inexperience at planning for security led to someone walking away with a few pieces of art from the art show one night. That’s what I remember.
Eucon for me only ran for one year. One of the local bookstore owners made a go of it a few years later, the name was also used by a game convention in Eugene, and I really hadn’t thought about it until I ran across the flyer, which I’d apparently used as scrap paper and stuffed in a box sometime before I moved to Portland in 1987.
Still, I got a thrill when I looked online for any mention of the convention and found this at Antiqbook: Europe’s Premier Antiquarian Booksite:
(ROBINSON, SPIDER [GUEST OF HONOR], JOHN VARLEY, KATE WILHELM, DAMON KNIGHT [GUESTS]) – (Program Book for) Eucon 1 (One), 1983, Eugene, or (Riddle Night at Callahan’s Place)
Eugene, OR: Willamette Science Fiction Productions. 1983, 1st Edition, 1st Printing. Booklet. 11 pages, stapled, oversize booklet with interesting stuff about this short-lived convention. Includes a riddle game by Spider Robinson (see title above). I got it new at the convention in 1983; nearly as new with just a little back cover wrinkling, one tiny corner crease. NO stamps or alien writing. Near Fine. Near Fine.
USD 20.00 [Appr.: EURO 15.5 | £UK 13.75 | JP¥ 1961]
I’m pretty sure I produced all of the printed material for the conference myself. There wasn’t exactly a staff with the capability to do layout and print prep; it was just me, Valery King, and a few other folks. A “riddle game by Spider Robinson”? I don’t remember that at all.