Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Winter 2005-6


My life in SF Fandom

Dick Jenssen

[ Continued from previous page ]

Ditmar and the Ditmar

For most of my life I have been lucky - I knew Race Mathews at school and so was part of the group he organized and which eventually became the Melbourne Science Fiction Clubin fact, because of this coincidence I became a Founding Member. At work, when I was a Ph. D. student, we had in the department a Visiting Fellow for a year, and we two played chess at morning and afternoon coffee breaks. When Schwerdtfeger left, the game score was 50-all, and I take this as the reason that I was invited to Wisconsin as an Assistant Professor at the end of my studiesthat is, so we could continue our matches. And so it was that when I was part of an organizing committee for a Convention to be held in Melbourne in 1969, there came another serendipitous occurrence. It was at this convention that the first Australian Science Fiction Awards were to be given. The committee met on a particularly stifling summer's day in the clubroom's oppressively hot confines. There came the usual (for anyone who is used to the way committees work, which is certainly slowly and very mysteriously) protracted and meandering discussion trying to fix on a popular name for the awards - Constellation, Southern Cross, DownUnders…Finally, thirst overwhelmed me, and my frivolous nature erupted, with the result that I facetiously suggested that they be called 'Ditmars'. To my surprise, this found favor; with Merv Binns being the most vociferous in support. Many years later Merv claimed that he did not know that 'Ditmar' was my Christian name - a claim of which I have trouble acknowledging the veracity. However, if anyone had asked for an explanation of why the Australian Science Fiction Awards should be colloquially called Ditmars, I was ready to say that I was intending to analyze the statistics of the voting forms on a Melbourne University computer known as a Digital Integrating and Tabulating Mechanism for the Advancement of Research. But no one ever inquired.


Things of which I am proud

If I look back at my life and career, there are things which I think I might be proud of, but which, on reflection, are not quite so. For example, there are those in the 'highlights of my career' paragraph above. But these 'accomplishments' fell into my lap, so to speak, because of my luck - and even if they were my efforts, they were not uniquely mine, in the sense that anyone could have accomplished them. If it had not been me, then someone else would have done so. They are mine because I was in the right place at the right time.

Only four things belong in the category of 'what I would not want my life to have been without' - and even if these, too, were freaks of fortune, of stochastic serendipity, and due to circumstances beyond my control, they are mine alone, and could not belong to another's life. The major one is finding the love of my life and having that love returned and multiplied many times over. As Dowson says:
They are not long, these days of wine and roses
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
But short as my life with my love was - a tad less than fifteen years - it was a dream from which "…when I waked I cried to dream again…". But now I am descending into the maudlin, and into that state of too much unnecessary information…

The three other never-to-be-lost events are having the Ditmars bear my name - no matter how undeserved that may be - winning a Ditmar myself in 2002 in the category of Best Fan Artist, and being made a Life Member of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club in April, 2005.

Martin James Ditmar (Dick) Jenssen


[ Ditmar Art Portfolio 656KB ]


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