In 1987, I won the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund (TAFF) Race, traveled for 3 weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland, visited with UK science fiction fans and attended the 45th world science fiction convention, Conspiracy 87, in Brighton. This much-belated trip report was written and published 33 years afterward, in 2020, reconstructed from audio tapes and photographs. Highlights include tales of my convention experiences, visits with Chuck Harris, Vincent Clarke, Walt Willis, James White, David Langford and Greg and Linda Pickersgill.
Why the long delay in producing my TAFF report? I tried this rationalization on a few people. I guess it wasn't too convincing.
One of the tragic things about writing a TAFF report is that there are seldom any bad guys involved. The fan fund writer needs to grab the reader’s attention, all the while being handicapped by the fact that most of the characters in their story are really quite wonderful, generous, and delightful people. Seldom do one’s hosts possess the sensitivity to realize that in order to gather material for a well-plotted, interesting trip report, the fan fund winner might well appreciate a minor, near fatal attempt upon their life. The sense of impending doom triggered by the growing awareness of a fandom-wide conspiracy aimed at the fan fund winner’s betrayal would provide a wonderful framework for a gripping tale of intrigue and suspense. What a TAFF report we might have if the winner just managed to narrowly escape from the home of their so-called “host,” by tying together the dozens of T-shirts meant for sale at the TAFF auction and climbing down the rough-hewn stone walls of their terrible prison, fleeing through the night disguised as an Anne McCaffrey fan—a stuffed dragon on her shoulder—and mailed herself back home in a crate marked as “unsold L. Ron Hubbard books.”