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Pre - Balticon Memories
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Page 5 of 'A Short History of Baltimore Fandom'
Jack Chalker
images/1x1.gifWhile all this was going on, BSFS members were also engaged in other types of activities. One of these was Jay Haldeman's 'Guilford Gafia', a writers group that met in his house and attracted local and regional writers to various party/workshops that were often sleepovers. Guilford was the section of Baltimore where Jay's house was located (which provided an alliterative, less-pretentious alternative to Damon Knight's 'Milford Mafia' writers group up in Milford, Pennsylvania). I hate self-criticism sessions for writers so I wasn't much involved in it, but I do know that some of the regulars included Jay's brother Joe, Roger Zelazny (who had moved to Baltimore in 1964), and frequent Haldeman houseguest George Alec Effinger. There was also a gaming group that revolved around Ron Bounds, but had no formal name as such. Members often gathered on weekends and played elaborate war games, with 'Diplomacy' being a particular favorite. Both Ron and I published Diplomacy fanzines, which allowed play-by-mail...plus propaganda!

images/1x1.gifBesides these Diplomacy fanzines, many other fanzines of a more traditional nature were also published by BSFS members, so many that it was almost a fanzine-of-the-month club. Kim Weston is still one of the major experts on and collectors of comic books; he published comics-related fanzines and participated in comics-related amateur press associations. Bounds did other gaming fanzines, and I did Mirage.

images/1x1.gifMirage evolved out of my earlier fanzine, Centaur. My second issue was called Kaleidoscope 2, but it had no title on the cover, as I had announced a contest for a permanent title. K2 couldn't have been more different from Centaur; this time August Derleth was the big influence, and the fanzine was very Lovecraftian in content. K2 was printed by Don Studebaker, and took some time to get out since I actually had to pay for supplies this time. I was very surprised by the positive reaction to it; I picked Mirage as the 'winner' for its permanent name (which had been suggested by a Sears & Roebuck salesman and would-be horror writer from Knoxville, Tennessee, named Gene Tipton) and decided to go with the 'serious and constructive' path that K2 had taken rather than the 'same-old same-old' of Centaur. The cover was drawn by David Prosser, a classical music disk jockey and part-time portrait painter from Ohio whose portraits of great opera stars are in major opera houses across the country. In fact, Prosser did the cover for every issue of Mirage and also designed the distinctive logo for Mirage (which I still use with my Mirage Press publications).
images/1x1.gifThere were eight issues, in all, with the Mirage title. Because it had no competition, it attracted a contributor's list that in retrospect is quite impressive: I published nonfiction by deCamp, Leiber, and others, the first stories of Ed Bryant and Ray Nelson, the last stories of Seabury Quinn and David H. Keller, M.D., poetry by Tim Powers... well, you get the idea. Mirage eventually gained a large enough following and popularity that it was nominated for the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1963. The last five issues were collated at BSFS meetings, the times when the meetings were at my house.
images/1x1.gifBy the end of the run, circulation had reached one thousand copies, so collation was no trivial matter. Actually, everyone who attended had to collate the zines, because otherwise there was no room to sit down and have a business meeting!
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