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Mike Glyer, Fan Guest of Honour

from the Torcon III Program Book (2003)

He chaired a Worldcon while continuing to publish a world-class fanzine. He's been nominated for more Hugo Awards than anyone, and won some too. He's been only a little distracted by getting married and getting a daughter.

To the Worldcon come all kinds of people: pros and fans, the merely curious, writers, editors, publishers, readers, the merely curious, painters, sculptors, collectors, costumers, World-Wide Web designers, singers, talkers, listeners, the merely curious. Thousands of us. Worldcons are chaired and run by fans. We're not sure ourselves how we do it. You'll find people asking each other all weekend. Ask Glyer. Better buy him a drink first.

The Hugo is our oldest and highest award, voted by the entire Worldcon membership, Attending and Supporting, for achievement in the previous year, pro or fan. Glyer's have been for Best Fanwriter and Best Fanzine. In 1982 he won a special award (see our Constitution elsewhere in this book) for Keeping the Fan in Fanzine Publishing.

Glyer named an early fanzine Prehensile, one of the better zine titles; he eventually moved on to File 770, named for the party in Room 770 at the 1951 Worldcon that upstaged the convention, clearly the right spirit. Like other fanzines File 770 is an amateur publication, appearing a few times a year, to be had in exchange for accepted contributions of graphic art or writing, or in agreed trade for your fanzine, or even (not all fanzines do this) by paid subscription. Look for a copy in the Fanzine Lounge.

Down near the roots are local s-f clubs. The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society is the oldest on Earth. Glyer has been active there for decades. He's been President, Comptroller, and Secretary. At one point he seemed to be all the secretaries there were, simultaneously in that office for the LASFS, the LASFS Board of Directors, and the Southern California Institute for Fannish Interests.

He was not around for the first Torcon in 1948, but he did attend Torcon 2 in 1973. Torcon 2 made Bob Bloch a Worldcon GoH for the second time; this year Torcon 3 is making Kelly Freas a Worldcon GoH for the second time. Canadians have taste. Torcon 2 was Glyer's second Worldcon. Go ahead, ask him.

He was first made a GoH in the 1980s at DeepSouthCon. The con committee saw some of his LASFS minutes. He tried to protest that funny things were happening all round him, which he just wrote down. This was as if Vincent Van Gogh had tried to protest "I just paint what I see."

File 770 won his Best Fanzine Hugos. Glyer started it when Linda Bushyager quit publishing the leading 1970s newszine Karass. He reports s-f clubs and conventions, and fannish projects like the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund and the Down Under Fan Fund. He prints reviews of books and films and Web sites, and articles like "Is Your Club Dead Yet?" He says, with H.L. Mencken, that the only sensible thing is to stay in the brewery and drink beer, but every now and then he is seized with the urge to rush out and break a bottle over someone's head.

He co-chaired Westercon XXXI (West Coast S-F Conference, like Worldcons held at various sites), a number which, with the known preferences of some fans, led to a sweet deal with Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, and the emergence of the ice-cream social at West Coast s-f cons. He rescued the Westercon XLIX business meeting, at El Paso, by applying Juarez time. More substantially he was among those rescuing Nolacon II, the 1988 Worldcon. Having at the eleventh hour put together panel programming, the jewel of a con, he turned to program operations, the tongs. "Here's the kind of person we need," he told Rick Foss, who was trying to help. "In short," said Foss, "Benito Mussolini." Glyer said "I'll phone Ross Pavlac." In fact Pavlac, the Avenging Aardvark, was the right fan for the job, his advice at that con changed Foss' life, and this was not the first nor the last time Glyer or others would be indebted to him.

Panel programming, like fanzines, is when done well a delight of our community. Setting the gems, bearing the metal through the fire, is no small task. It needs a proportion of deep color and airy filigree. At Westercon LV, as head of programming, Glyer spanned "No Bucks, No Buck Rogers", "The Bar's My Destination", and eight discussions of s-f classics from The Glass Bead Game to The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. In his own fanzine, and his occasional columns and articles for others, he is inclusive, discerning, and comical. No small task.

File 770 was the first to publish Hugo voting statistics. When one year people began pointing with alarm at some suspect voting data, Glyer printed their reports side by side, showing that the data had not been investigated as thoroughly as first supposed. A photograph arrived of well-known fans round a swimming pool all reading that issue, without a cloud in the sky. For his 20th anniversary, he ran a poll asking us to name three fans who had most influenced our own activity — result, 134 names, with only 30 coming from more than one respondent. Maybe he really does just paint what he sees.

When the New England S-F Ass'n followed the LASFS in getting a clubhouse, the building had previously been occupied by a dry-cleaner. NESFA is the salt to LASFS' pepper, or the soy sauce to our pickled ginger, or something. NESFA dismantled a flywheel from a cylinder, packed the cylinder in a plain pine box with LASFS' copy of the NESFA clubzine Instant Message, and sent it west. We had, Glyer realized, been given the shaft. We tried to unload it on the Philadelphia S-F Society, which had solicited exhibits from any remaining clubs that had been part of the original S-F League. This invitation was irresistible, and the shaft arrived for Phillycon (the Philadelphia local con, "Philcon" being a Worldcon there, like the Millennium Philcon of 2001), but no one was dumb enough to sign for it, a depressing comparison. All was carefully reported in File 770. Also the hearty relations between the LASFS Secretary and the Clerk of NESFA.

In Glyer's days as LASFS President, he had Ted Johnstone as Secretary. One night a motion submitted in writing was laid, not on the table, but in Johnstone's ashtray. Smoking was permitted in the clubhouse at the moment. Johnstone set the paper on fire. It burned to ashes. Glyer asked "Is there any new business?" Johnstone, looking at the ashtray, answered "No." Glyer said "Seeing none --" He was re-elected Secretary a lot more often.

When fans turn to ordinary human pastimes the results can be strange. Glyer played cards with Bruce Pelz. Some of those games have been charitably, or rashly, called "poker". For example, there is Soft Shoe, in which one can shuffle off to bluff a low. A draft of the File 770 obituary for Pelz acknowledged the influence of Jack Harness in such games, but said only that Harness was not alone. Modesty can restrain speech or require it. The obituary as published admitted that Glyer had to pay a fine before explaining rules he'd invented.

He describes chairing L.A.con III, the 1996 Worldcon, as being chief recruiter. When something was to be done he found who could and would and wasn't already doing something else. Modesty. Consider the barber who shaved every man that didn't shave himself; who shaved the barber? In Los Angeles, with more convention talent than one can shake a stick at, and one may wish for a stick, there is still no excess of persons able and willing to take the chair, nor of those under whose supervision the rest will rest easy. Besides, resting is all very well for them, but as Larry Niven says, uneasy sits the butt that bears the boss. Glyer seems to have succeeded here too by virtue of the same qualities we have been noting. We can but deduce. Merciful custom assures that once is enough in this chair.

He attributes the success of File 770 to a kind of instinct. He admits, if pressed, that its long life has made it easier to love, and that he runs good graphic art — he was indispensable for the Fan Art exhibit at the Millennium Philcon Art Show. He has a wide sense of fan activity, with room for the music we call filksinging from a typing slip fifty years ago, and for the costuming seen most spectacularly in the competition s-f cons call a Masquerade. He is inclined to faith, hope, and charity, and to holding the third of these highest. Anything else, he supposes, must be whatever leads people to say now and then, of some article he has written, or printed, that they were glad someone took up such a topic, or expressed such an opinion. But in reviewing others he does not propose that the best art is the most gratifying. He knows wit, invention, and skill. We might not like him to escape such credit directed at himself.

What shall we do with such a fan? Well, we could make him a Worldcon Guest of Honour. Good thing somebody did.