One of the things about winning Hugos is that you become part of history. I didn’t manage the honor of ending Dave Langford’s record-breaking winning streak, but I had lots of reasons for wanting to win Best Fan Writer. One of those reasons was that only one other woman had ever won that Hugo. In 1974, 1977 (tie) and 1981 it was won by a Canadian called Susan Wood.
Who? Well, I didn’t have much idea. Susan died in 1980, several years before I attended my first convention. Until recently I had never even read anything she had written, and I wanted to know more about the person in whose footsteps I was following. However, as many of you will know, I’m not big on fan history. I rely on other people to do that, and thankfully they do. Gary Farber has been quietly working on getting Susan’s work online for some time now, and Taral Wayne has recently done the necessary scanning and uploading. You can now go to efanzines.com and read “A Room of Her Own”, the Susan Wood archive.
The archive consists of all five issues of Susan’s personal fanzine, Aspidistra, plus a Best Of Susan Wood compilation of her writing for other magazines, edited by Jerry Kaufman. I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, but I have dipped into it. Susan it appears, was an ardent feminist and environmentalist. It also sounds like she had huge amounts of energy and was a lot of fun. Her Torcon 2 report, which is in Best Of and is titled “Will Somebody Please Tell Bruce Gillespie I really am Sane Sometimes” is very funny. Sadly I get the impression that Bruce really was traumatized by his visit to Torcon 2, but I’m sure Susan wasn’t entirely to blame.
The zines were all mimeo, and scanning them doesn’t help the quality much, but they are all very readable. Susan Wood was an excellent writer, and I’m proud to follow in her footsteps.