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Issue 17 - December 1973
Spaced Out In Sunderland
This month has seen a Science Fiction Festival (the biggest this year!) in Sunderland. It all happened due to the efforts of Chris Carrell of Sunderland Arts Centre, and science fiction writers and personalities have visited the centre to give lectures, lead discussions and present their work.

But one weekend that departed from hard core sci-fi was that of the 16-18 November. Described as a weekend of poetry, fantasy and music, it proved to be pretty enjoyable - at least on the Saturday.

Friday night, the arts magazine Ambit ran their own evening, starring Martin Bax (their editor) and featuring Quaternity - a highly competent jazz band.

But Saturday had the attractions of Adrian Henri, Adrian Mitchell, D M Thomas, Edwin Morgan, Edward Lucie-Smith, John Fairfax and Jeni Conzyn reading their poetry with support from the group 'Sticky George' whose musical versatility must be heard more than it has been before now.

Adrian Henri opened the day holding up the standard which he maintained throughout the whole day. He was not of course a purely science fiction writer, but it was he and Sticky George who bounced, rolled and worked their way through the day, entertaining people with quality and quantity of poems and songs. Adrian Henri did some of those old songs he did with the Liverpool scene such a long time ago (or so it seems) and enjoyed every one of them. Edward Lucie-Smith, who is pretty high up on the Arts Council, 'chaired' a poetry-in in the afternoon, after Henri and Sticky George had put 1-2 hours of hard fun. Mr Lucie-Smith and his colleagues looked like poets - it was quite uncanny. There was a big chance for all of them to affect a gifted, intellectual character for themselves. But Adrian Henri didn't slip himself into a cellophane packet, nor did Adrian Mitchell appear to join the crowd of poets who avoid any direct contact with reality and action.

A mixed media event called 'Astronaut' by Edward Lucie-Smith had its first performance. It had nice bits, but as a whole it was an ego / head trip of a particularly cultured kind for the author and

Elsewhere, Jules Baker (Kids festivals, last issue) and Bruce Lacey and his amazing space flight simulator 'A journey through a black hole to a coloured planet' worked for people who wanted to be part of some action, with their events offering fun without claiming they were doing anything 'arty'.

But the late night session - again carried by Adrian Henri, was the best of all. By now the audience (who were not all sci-fi freaks, nor all poetry freaks) were sufficiently settled in to know where the bar was, and the result was a massive jam session, with the audience involved as part of it all. The third encore was called for by one of the centre management "or else the buggers'll never go home" he said.