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Things That Might Have Been
by Stephen Jones
Les Edwards—One of the Gang
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Edgar Allan Poe: Double Century, Double Bill
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The Ackermonster and Me:
Forrest J Ackerman (1917–2008)
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My Friend, Chris Wicking
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Karl Edward Wagner Special Award Winner: Ray Harryhausen
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Stephen Jones: Loving The Idiots
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The Creative Spirit
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What Price Integrity?
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Three Weeks With the Undead
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Growing Up in a World of Gods and Monsters
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R. Chetywnd-Hayes: An Appreciation
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A Fellowship of Fantasy: A Personal Reminiscence of The British Fantasy Society
by Stephen Jones
A Fellowship of Fantasy: A Personal Reminiscence of The British Fantasy Society
The British Fantasy Society logo I HAVE SAID IT BEFORE, and I am always proud to say it again: if it was not for my involvement in The British Fantasy Society, I doubt I would have the career that I do today.

Although I had been reading science fiction, fantasy and horror since the mid 1960s, I only discovered the world of fanzines in the early 1970s. It was probably through advertisements in either Shadow or Gothique (my two favourite small press publications at that time) that I first discovered the BFS, and I joined while in my late teens in 1972 (I note from the September 1972 issue of David Sutton's The British Fantasy Society Bulletin that I was member 97).

The Society quickly opened up a whole new world for me, particularly with its news and reviews of forthcoming books and magazines. However, little more than a year later I was already complaining that the BFS was "in a rut" and predicting that the Society might not be around for its fourth year if things did not change. At least my letter created a debate in The Bulletin's previously lacklustre letter column, and it was not long before Secretary/Treasurer Sandra Sutton had me leading by example as the new editor of the Society's journal, Dark Horizons.

It was also in 1974 that I attended Novacon 2 in Birmingham, where I was fortunate to meet for the first time Dave and Sandra Sutton, along with Society President Ramsey Campbell and BFS members Brian Mooney and Marion Pitman. More than anything else, their kindness and generosity over that weekend to a young fan at his very first convention shaped my life in ways I could never have then imagined.

Building upon the success of my editorial predecessors, I produced six issues of Dark Horizons and continued to contribute regularly to The BFS Bulletin under editors David Riley and Jim Pitts, Gordon Larkin, Dave Reeder and Carl Hiles.

I also began to see my artwork appear in other fanzines and even a few professional publications, and it was with great pride that I attended the first one-day Fantasycon in Birmingham in February 1975, where my illustration graced the cover of the programme book and I participated in my first panel (alongside Jim Pitts and George Locke, discussing 'Fantasy Art in Fanzines').

In the years that followed I was involved in every aspect of the Society contributing art, articles and reviews to the various magazines, editing Fantasycon Programme Books, and even designing the advertising flyers. In 1982, Jo Fletcher and I took over editing The British Fantasy Newsletter (as we retitled it), and for the next three years we proved to be an unbeatable team, upgrading the existing publications, creating the special booklets series, and totally restructuring the way in which the BFS operated when we ended up running the Society for a couple of years.

Although my own projects—originally with the small press, and later in professional markets—began to take up more and more of my time, I continued to make room for the BFS. Jo and I continued to work with editors Peter Coleborn and Paul (Carl) Hiles on The Newsletter, and helped David Sutton, Stefan Jaworzyn, Mike and Di Wathen, Peter Coleborn and Mike Chinn with successive Fantasycons.

In fact, I am proud to say that I have attended every Fantasycon to date (and even organised the event a few times myself), and it remains my all time favourite convention. However, it also came as a bit of a shock a few years ago to realise that a whole new generation of fans and professionals were now attending, and that I was regarded by many of them as something of a "veteran" of the BFS!

There would probably have never been a Fantasy Tales without the British Fantasy Society, and consequently it is unlikely that Fantasy Media, Shock Xpress, my various Mammoth anthologies, Dark Voices/Dark Terrors or The Best New Horror series would ever have existed as well. Because, more than anything else, The British Fantasy Society has introduced me to other people all over the world who share my enjoyment and enthusiasm for fantastic literature. Without the BFS I would never have met such friends and colleagues as Dave and Sandra Sutton, Jo Fletcher, Ramsey Campbell, Jim Pitts, Neil Gaiman, Brian Mooney, Adrian Cole, Karl Edward Wagner, Brian Lumley, Dot Lumley, Clive Barker, Manly Wade Wellman, Jean Daniel Brèque, Ken Bulmer, Peter Coleborn, Mike Chinn, Dave McFerran, Alan Hunter, Gordon Larkin, Jon Harvey, Rosemary Pardoe and the numerous others who have not only formed the foundations of my career, but also enriched my personal life in countless ways over the past three decades.

It is a debt I am still trying to repay. I therefore continue to work behind the scenes, helping and advising successive BFS committees, and when I am asked how to break into the genre I always recommend the Society as the best starting point for anyone wanting to know what is currently happening in the fields of fantasy and horror.

For twenty five years The British Fantasy Society has been the focal point for the genre in the United Kingdom. It has weathered some difficult times and always emerged strengthened and renewed. Its alumni reads like a who's who of imaginative literature, and the British Fantasy Award is respected throughout the world.

I could never have achieved what I have in this genre without the help and support of its many members over the years, and so I want to celebrate this landmark anniversary by taking this opportunity to say a sincere thank you to every person in the British Fantasy Society who has touched my life in some way. My hope is that we can all continue to share in this unique Fellowship of Fantasy for the next quarter of a century and beyond.

For more information, visit The British Fantasy Society.

Copyright © Stephen Jones 1996. All rights reserved.
Originally published in Silver Rhapsody: BFS Booklet #23 edited by John Carter and Jan Edwards.

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