The Susan Wood Archive

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 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.

5 thoughts on “The Susan Wood Archive

  1. Gosh, that was a blast from the past. How many decades has it been, since I saw a copy of Aspidistra? All evoking The Silent Spring in my mind to boot.

    Thanks! 🙂

  2. “You can now go to and read “A Room of Her Own”, the Susan Wood archive.”

    Or go here for Aspidistra or here for Best Of Susan Wood, as I blogged about here, but haven’t yet had a chance to blog more about Susan and context.

    A problem with that is where to stop. Meanwhile, I’ve put up a lot of relevant links here, which should be globally readable to anyone and everyone, no matter that they’re not a member of Facebook. Please see compilation of links on that page for more info on Susan.

    With more to come, of course. I only did this a few hours ago.

  3. To be clear: the Facebook page is an archive: the efanzines page — while not at all to be deprecated! — is simply one page where _Aspidistra_ and _Best of Susan Wood_ can be found; more info about Susan won’t be added to the efanzines pages, and isn’t where people should go to look for it.

    And see, specifically, this links page

  4. You might find particularly worthwhile, starting on Page 55 of Best of Susan Wood, her Aussiecon (1975) report, “Propeller Beanie,” which also talks a lot about the GOH, Ursula Le Guin, whose book of essays, The Language Of The Night Susan went on to compile, edit, and see published, which has been through a number of editions and publisher.

    (See links at Facebook page for more info on that, and how to obtain copies.)

    On page 61, “Tidepool” begins, one of Susan’s fannish accounts of being one of the early University professors first teaching sf.

    The fanzine she refers to that she did, Genre Plat, she co-edited for a couple of years with Allyn Cadogan, then of San Francisco, and with a third fan, a longtime fan, who had gafiated for a number of years and recently become active again in the mid-Seventies; first in Toronto, then in Vancouver.

    His name was and is “William Gibson,” aka “Bill Gibson,” and he later sold some science fiction. You may have heard of him.

    What might most interest you is the article beginning on page 68: “People’s Programming.”

    Susan founded feminist sf fandom in that article.

    It’s that simple. Go read it.

    That’s the piece that should first be put into text, HTML, form.

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