Helen Ryder – Fan Guest of Honour

Helen Ryder - Fan Guest of Honour

In her own words….

As a child I was an avid reader, and the first SF books that I recall reading included the ‘Kemlo’ books in the school library, and Star Surgeon by Alan E. Nourse. Then a school friend introduced me to Asimov as an author and I was lost. When I was 18 I went to my first Star Trek convention in my home town – and met Philippa.

Over the next ten years we attended ST and SF conventions around the UK (Conspiracy ’87 in Brighton was my first Worldcon, and my Darkover costume won the Eastercon masquerade in 1991) and after our marriage in 1986 we were involved in the Irish Science Fiction Association meetings. In 1990 a group of us launched Octocon in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire with Terry Pratchett as our guest of honour and somehow I ended up as the chair. We repeated the experience in 1991 and as chair I was delighted to meet our GOH Geoff Ryman. Octocon 3 with Orson Scott Card was to be my last on the committee but not our last convention – the Star Trek con Timewarp 1 and 2 in Malahide was at one time the largest Star Trek convention in Europe. In 1997 Dublin hosted Eurocon in Dublin Castle and my co-chair was the much-missed Dave Stewart.

Work and family life took its toll and I stepped back from active fandom but not from SF. I have been very proud of my involvement in early Irish SF fandom.  It is thrilling to know that Octocon has been such a solid part of the Irish SF year and was the base for the brilliant Dublin Worldcon in 2019.