1992: Van Ikin

A Few Words About the Winner, Van Ikin

from Terry Dowling

It’s probably impossible to give an accurate list of the shakers and movers, makers and doers, the voices of sweet reason, fair play and honest assessment that have helped make the F&SF phenomenon what it is in this country, harder still to list those who don’t have an axe to grind somewhere or a chip on the shoulder about something, who manage to maintain commitment, excellence and proportion in what they do.

The announcement of van Ikin as winner of the inaugural Chandler Award at Syncon ’92, the 31st Natcon, held at Sydney’s Shore Inn over the Easter long weekend, was greeted with resounding applause. It was a welcome and very popular choice. Susan Chandler, Bert’s widow, was delighted with it.

I’ve known Van as a close friend and colleague since our undergraduate days at Sydney University, when he was editing and single-handedly publishing the SUSFA fanzine Enigma. He is presently a lecturer in English literature at the University of Western Australia, a husband and father and – too rarely these days for those of us who know his stories – a writer whose fiction has appeared in everything from Adam to Omega. Since 1977, he has published and edited Science Fiction : A Review of Speculative Literature, now at its 32nd issue, plus two impressive anthologies, Australian Science Fiction (UQP, 1982) and Glass Reptile Breakout and Other Australian Speculative Stories (CSAL, 1991). As well as being resident genre reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald since 1983, he makes regular appearances at genre-related conventions and seminars, such as the 1991 Legends Seminar in Sydney and this year’s Imaginings Conference in Brisbane for which he was Keynote Speaker.

This is not to say Van doesn’t rob graveyards at midnight or swing from the bells when Quasimodo is on leave. It means that he is dedicated and professional enough to keep standards and hide the Zorro suit, committed enough to keep publishing even when the gods have made it patently obvious they have it in for him, one of those sly low-key bon vivants who couldn’t possibly take another glass of wine at dinner but will then souvenir your best bottle of red and leave money on the fridge. He has a sense of humour to be reckoned with, a charm and goodwill second to none.

What more can you say about someone who publishes articles on SF reading protocols then packages same between fluoro-yellow covers? Just this – he is a fine choice, a wonderful and most deserving choice, for which the 1992 jury as much as Van himself deserve congratulations. They could not have chosen better, and the Chandler award is established in fine style.