Darkover Council

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See also: Enclave, Weyr, Fan Club
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Some Darkover fans organized themselves by joining "Darkover Councils," also known as "Towers." These gatherings are a form of fan club.

Councils were listed in the Darkover Newsletters, were there is much about their formation, rules, and activities.

"Darkover Councils" were most popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg in charge of council organization.


In March 1978, a plan was announced that the newly forming Darkover Welcommittee would from then-on be the source of information for Councils. This was done to take some of the work off of Lichtenberg's shoulders, and to shorten the Darkover Newsletter where council info had become too unwieldily. "As noted elsewhere. Keeper's Tower will now cover only latest NEWS of the Councils in the DNL. The list of active Councils will be published by WELCOMMITTEE and made available to all interested parties at cost plus SASE." [1]

There were 10 Councils listed in the August 1977 Darkover Newsletter, and in January 1978, there were 51.

As of February 1980 there were 98 registered Councils, 75 of which were Chartered.

Management and Types

Jacqueline Lichtenberg explained in 1980: "The difference between Registered and being Chartered is simply that Chartered Councils send me a list of names and addresses of their members, and keep me informed of additions and corrections to the list. For this level of activity, they get a lovely frameable Charter for the organizer of the Council, and blue membership cards for each member." [2]

Lichtenberg explained in 1977: "We have two kinds of Councils: 1) those which function basically by mail, being almost pen-pal clubs, and those which are strictly local, holding meetings every now eind then. It is possible to belong to more than one Council." [3]


Councils were, perhaps, fleeting in existence, and often seemingly poor at correspondence.

In 1981, Jacqueline Lichtenberg tried to get a handle on just how many Councils were up and running. She sent out a questionnaire to every Council, and reported: "We've heard from 44 Councils, two of which are officially disbanded... There are yet 67 Councils that have not responded... though the Post Awful seems to have delivered it to them." [4]

Bradley's Newsletter

Each Council had to purchase a subscription to Bradley's newsletter.

In 1978, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, the fan in charge of Council registration and accountability, asked: "I am now asking for all Councils to report the news of their doings to me for the Keeper's Tower report. I'd like to know how many meetings you've held, what you did at them, whether you publish, whether your Council letter is available to outsiders, how many RR loops you are running, and any other fan interests you have." MZB interjected that each Council had better have at least one subscription to this newsletter.[5]


[Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote in 1977] : I am always being asked, when I go to conventions, how to form a Council, as if it were some abstruse matter. My answer is always the same. Get together a friend or two with whom you like discussing Darkover, and call yourself a Council. We have a couple of Councils which are virtually branches of the SCA who now and then spend an afternoon talking Darkover. Another began as a Tolkien fan group and are heavily into Mythopoesy. People ask "What do you do at Council meetings?' Well, when three Darkovans get together they hold a dance, but when three Darkover fans—or ANY fans—get together, they TALK. At Thendara Council we sometimes collate, staple, fold, or lick stamps for the Newsletter, but more often we get together on Sunday afternoons, drink tea, eat cookies—those of us who aren't dieting, that is—and talk about everything, including Darkover. Calling it a Council meeting is just a good excuse for getting together on Sunday's, and spending time we'd probably spend together anyhow. And that's really all there is to it.[6]

From Ambrov Zeor #6 (January 1978):

The fans are now organized into Councils which are clubs open to all Darkover fans. The Councils are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and EMPHATICALLY nonprofit groups of volunteers sharing a common interest in the Darkover novels. There are no dues and no membership requirements apart from the wish to particpate in discussions of Darkover and similar fantasy worlds. Many Councils overlap Dragonfen, Amber fen, SCA, and Sime-Kraith-ST groups. The well-known by-laws of the Baker Street Irregulars (a group dedicated to exploring their own fantasy world, that of Sherlock Holmes) contain two clauses which fit the Councils.
"All other business shall be deferred to the monthly meetings."
"There are no monthly meetings."

Well, not quite. Reunions of the Friends occur at Council meeting across the country and at various Science Fiction and STAR TREK conventions where groups of Darkover fans congregate. Many Councils take nonlocal members and communicate basically by penpal round robins, or by publishing their own Darkover newsletters or fanzines.

To subscribe to the newsletter or get information on any of the many Darkover publications, send a Self-Addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to Thendara House Council c/o Friends of Darkover.

Jacqueline Lichtenber's Control

Jacqueline Lichtenberg was in charge of registering and organizing councils. She communicated with fans about her decisions and made announcements in a section of the Darkover Newsletter called "Keeper's Tower," which was the name of her own Council. See Keeper's Tower.

In November 1977, Lichtenberg wrote about one reason why she kept a firm hand on the naming reins:

I am keeping a list of all the Councils—and their members—for two purposes; to make sure (1) that no two Councils are operating with the same name, and (2) we don't lose active members just because their Keeper teleports to another random.

So what's so bad about two Councils having the same name? Nothing, really nothing, that is, if everyone possessed the ethics of the Arilinn-trained. I have been in fandom for—Evanda have pity!—20 years. I can say without hesitation that most fans are good people you could trust in almost any situation. However, misunderstandings DO occur, even among telepaths (cf. BS, HH, FT), and there is always the occasional human with no sense of ethics. I have seen, several times, a fan group begin to operate under a good solid fannish name, go along beautifully for awhile, and then suddenly stop answering mail, stop honoring subscriptions, become horrendously offended when people call nasty names—and finally the operation disappears amid a foul taste in the Overworld. Fans who live through such a scandal remember the name of the group for many, many years and it takes still longer for the rumors to die down.

Now if you've entered fandom after such a scandal has died down tc a private thing among the ingroup, and you innocently start an operation using the same name which started the scandal or ripoff, people will look at one another and say "Well, well, old so-and-so is back in business, let's give them the cold shoulder" (or worse). Without having done anything wrong or even questionable, you inherit the bad publicity, and your name is M-U-D.

So far, among Darkover fans, we haven't had any misbehavior, or any misunderstandings or violent hurts. And I honestly don't expect anything like that to happen. But it can work the other way, too. You can come on the scene, build a STERLING reputation, drop out for awhile (fans do go overseas, get married, go on lengthy vacations, have babies, or give up their fanactivity for all kinds of quite irreproachable reasons), and when you come back, you find out that someone else has started up something in the name you'd used (maybe never having heard of you, and in all innocence—it is very rare for fans deliberately to plagiarize a going concern, or even an abandoned one)—and is capitalizing on your hard-earned reputation.

Keeper's Tower will try to prevent this. Once a matrix is issued, it will be buried with you—unless or until you relinquish it of your own freewill to us.

List of Councils

Early 1978 Councils

List of Darkover Newsletters & Zines


  1. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #11
  2. ^ Darkover Newsletter #21
  3. ^ Darkover Newsletter #6
  4. ^ Darkover Newsletter #24
  5. ^ Darkover Newsletter #11
  6. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #8, November 1977