Fantasy Worlds Festival Dead Dog Party Incident

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Title: Fantasy Worlds Festival Dead Dog Party Incident
Creator: Marion Zimmer Bradley
Date(s): March 1980
Medium: print
Fandom: Darkover
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Fantasy Worlds Festival Dead Dog Party Incident is a 1980 essay by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The title used here on Fanlore; the actual essay has no subtitle and is one in the series called Letters from MZB.

This essay was printed in Darkover Newsletter #21.

Bradley wrote a letter to fans in nearly every issue of Darkover Newsletter. They were often chatty and informative, filled with her opinions about various matters, updated fans on her con and travel plans and upcoming books, and sometimes scolded fans about various things.

The letter in March 1980 addressed what had happened at the Dead Dog Party for Fantasy Worlds Festival.

At the bottom of the letter is an illo of three little scorpions.

Some Topics

  • personal contact with fans
  • parties and guests getting out of hand


[Fantasy Worlds Festival] was a wonderful, small, relaxed convention, with a splendid keynote speech by Poul Anderson, Guest of Honor, and a number of fabulous panels and presentations. It was followed up by a fabulous party held at my home--Greenwalls— which went on far into the next day, with numbers of people sleeping over and resuming the party until we all had to go back to work.

But during this party, something happened which makes it very unlikely that I will ever again open my home to the Friends. There is always someone who will, with his or her thoughtlessness, wreck things for other people.

The party, catered by Adrienne Martine-Barnes, had been intended as a "Dead Dog" party for committee members, and featured panelists and speakers. But I am not a harsh person in general, and constitutionally unable to say "No" when some eager fan, wistful, turns to me, having heard of the party, and says "I'd LOVE to come--do you really MIND?" And some of those invited brought family and friends, and some of the friends must have brought friends, because there were people there whom I had never seen or heard of, including people who weren't at the convention at all, and one rather elderly lady who cornered me in the wee small hours of the morning, claiming to be an old, old friend of my husband --who later told me he had never heard of her.

Well, with that I could deal. I try to be hospitable, even to party-crashers. But two or three days later we made a genuinely shocking discovery; during the party, probably during my absence from a part of it for a healing ceremony, some inconsiderate person entered our (carefully closed) household Temple, ransacked it and Walter's closet, and abstracted several items. In addition to a quantity of herbs used in religious and healing ceremonies, they stole two of my matrixes, including one very beautiful cobalt crystal sent me by an anonymous fan somewhere in San Francisco and referred to as an "unkeyed matrix" which I had fitted with a crimson velvet bag and which played a substantial part in the "Leonie Hastur" costume displayed in the costume contest; the second "matrix" was a beautiful multi-faceted blue crystal given me by my brother Don for a birthday. There was also a small religious statuette, a quantity of healing oil consecrated by our bishop and used recently in an Ordination ceremony held at our house, and some other small items --including the possibility that a few books may have vanished[1]and we have not yet discovered the loss.


This is not only distressing, but puzzling. If the purpose was malice, why not take the more expensive and irreplaceable items? The most charitable explanation I can think of, is that somebody was simply souvenir hunting; but I have been known to be generous, and if asked, would find the person a more individual souvenir. It was suggested to me that someone had stolen these items in order to try and work Black Magic upon me; but I pooh-poohed that suggestion; anyone who knew enough about the workings of Black Magic to make it worth the blood, sweat, tears and real danger of such an enterprise would have known what kind of things to take to make such an operation effective. Somewhat more likely is the dubious flattery of some person who wanted to emulate my work as magician or writer and stole these small items, telling him/herself that they weren't really very valuable and I'd never miss them, so that the thief --for I call things by their names -- could set up a magical altar of his/her own. I trust by now this person has discovered that in order for such items to work any magic they may contain, they must be individually chosen, individually consecrated, and, to use Darkovan terms, keyed 1ike a matrix to the individual who uses them, (if they seem to have done you any good, friend, it's pure suggestion, and all in your own head; you could have achieved the same results with a stray pebble you picked up on the beach and invested with these powers.)

Well, whoever did it, and whatever his or her obscure reason might have been, that person has simply spoilt further such parties for the Friends of Darkover; in future, any such parties will have to be held in a public place and the guest list checked like the security at the Pentagon. And I hope that person is proud of what he/she has accomplished and felt it was worth the trouble and self-disgust. However, more for the benefit of that person (giving them an opportunity to subvert the karma engendered by such a thing, if you know what I'm talking about, and if you don't, you wouldn't have taken them to start with) than for my own, I'm making an offer, openly like this in the Newsletter.

[much snipped about how to atone: send the things back by registered mail, or put them in her mailbox, or give Bradley $100, or return them in person: "I will show you ho to make up your own magical altar, which will be much more useful than one made with stolen items."]

I'll ask no questions.... And I'll cherish no grudge, and you'll clear the record; because as it is, I must suspect literally every person who was there, except among my most intimate family friends. And I am even low enough to have suspected some of them for a time.


If you seriously want to atone, tell me who you are, even if you keep the things; that will free some innocent parties of suspicion they don't deserve.

And if you're just an ignorant yahoo who would do a thing like this out of sheer stupidity, thinking yourself clever, well --I'm sorry for you, because you have hurt yourself more than you have hurt me. But the ones you have really hurt are the ones who came, innocently, to my house as a guest, enjoyed themselves there, and are now, for no fault of their own, barred from being entertained there again in such large groups, even though they behaved irreproachably.



  1. ^ Given Bradley's husband Walter Breen's proclivities for book theft, this may have been someone retrieving material that rightfully belonged elsewhere.