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The Portland Science Fiction Society

A brief early history.
By Carl Bennett.

Copyright © 2001-2018 by Carl Bennett. All Rights Reserved.

I really can’t remember when, but it must have been sometime in 1977 that Denys Howard and I were talking about the absence of an organized science fiction group in Portland, Oregon. There hadn’t been any substantial group since the 1950s, when an organization hosted a large national convention in downtown Portland. Apparently, the stresses of putting on such a large event fractured the group.

In typical ‘hey-kids-wouldn’t-it-be-great-if . . .’ enthusiasm, Denys and I worked out the name of a new group based on a workable abbreviation, PorSFiS (pronounced ‘porss-fiss’).

I cannot recall how I got the word out, but the first meeting of the Portland Science Fiction Society happened not long after that on a Sunday afternoon at my bookstore, The Illustrated Store, at 1808 East Burnside. (Denys never attended a meeting but he did have a hand in PorSFiS’s gestation.) The meetings were always conducted without an agenda, the space was often too small (there were never enough chairs), but the meetings continued twice a month thereafter, chiefly as a social gathering of up to a dozen people. We talked about books and films. We talked about other subjects and celebrated members’ birthdays. As I remember, early regular attendees included Debbie Cross, John Andrews, John Reagan, Jeff Pike and Kim Jones.

Eventually, I sensed the group was floundering under my de facto control. Since I worked in the bookstore six days a week and was now in the shop for two Sundays a month hosting the PorSFiS meetings, I didn’t have enough time to organize meeting agendas, and I was weary with all the other irons I had in the fire. I gently nudged the group out of the bookstore, where other hands could take the society and run with it. The group soon began meeting downtown at the main branch of the Portland Public Library.

Neatly-organized meetings formed quickly and The Portland Science Fiction Society was soon large enough to begin organizing Orycon, the first Portland science-fiction conventions since the 1950s. Later, an Orycon group split from PorSFiS to concentrate efforts on the event. Under the leadership of current president Debra Stansbury, the nonprofit science-fiction society PorSFiS has flourished. You can visit PorSFiS online.