Spaced Out (club)

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Fan Club
Name: Spaced Out
Dates: 1999 - 2014, now ongoing informally
Founder(s): Geoff Allshorn
Leadership: Geoff Allshorn, Miriam English, Cathy Larsen, Andrew Bell
Country based in: Australia
Focus: LGBT+ science fiction group (general SF)
External Links:
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Old logo - date unknown.

Spaced Out was an LGBT+ science fiction club based in Melbourne, Australia. It focussed on both media and literary science fiction, holding social events, convention panels and workshops, fanzine launches, and movie nights (including to the opening night of Galaxy Quest).

Spaced Out was founded in 1999 by Geoff Allshorn, who became Convenor for its early years, and he was replaced by Cathy Larsen in its latter years. Other members formed a club committee. Space journalist and author Kate Doolan offered early assistance as a publicity contact, and as a writer for the newsletter and fanzine. The club was also given support and encouragement in its early days by Barrett Brick from the Washington DC Lambda SF Group.

In their newsletters, they published queer-related reviews of Star Trek, Quantum Leap, Babylon 5, Doctor Who, The Tomorrow People, Blake's Seven, Alien Nation and 2001: A Space Odyssey, among others; and they explored the works of a variety of authors and other creative artists, including Ursula Le Guin, Theodore Sturgeon, Joe Haldeman, Arthur C Clarke, Stephen Dedman, Kerry Greenwood, David Gerrold, and Melissa Scott.

The club networked with other local fandoms, encouraging them to celebrate LGBT+ fandom and other forms of diversity.; they also participated in annual Pride Marches and were interviewed on JOY-FM (Melbourne's LGBT+ radio station) and Bent-TV (Melbourne's queer community TV station) as a way to connect with local queer communities as well. The club enjoyed the membership and support of both LGBT+ SF fans and allies.

Spaced Out operated as a public club until approximately 2014, at which time it officially closed, but it remains as a Facebook group today, with its own website and book group. Now overseen by Cathy Larsen and Andrew Bell, they still hold social events and participate in Melbourne's annual Pride March.


Geoff and Miriam English worked as co-editors of the website and were joint recipients of a Ditmar Award for this work in 2002.[1]

Spaced Out is 'a science fiction club for gays, lesbians and associated communities', and the fact that it won a Ditmar attests, I think, to the openness of SF fans - and those who voted. [2]

They were also co-editors of the first 17 issues of the newsletter, Diverse Universe (which was published four times a year) and of two issues of the fanzine, Solar Spectrum.

Convention Participation

Spaced Out participated in a number of both literary and media-based science fiction conventions.

This included running club workshops and author readings at Aussiecon 3, the third Australian World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne in 1999, as well as similar events at a variety of other local conventions including Multiverse 4 in 2001, and Convergence in 2002.

Spaced out also ran its own one-day mini convention, called Out A Space, held on 11 June 2000, to commemorate the first anniversary of the club's first public meeting. [3]

Samples of Spaced Out writings as a demonstration of diverse interests and activities:

Spaced Out Charter:

"Countdown to the Future: Our Ten-Point Charter

10. We celebrate the diversity of people across all cultures, races, genders and sexual orientations, and we support equality for all;

9. We recognise that we experience the problems of 'invisibility' and intolerance that are faced by many so-called 'minority groups' in society;

8. We feel that science fiction provides a forum for us to express our individuality and creativity through the varied forms of speculative fiction;

7. We wish to be acknowledged as having a place in humanity's future and we hope to raise the profile of our community amongst other forward-thinking people;

6. We recognise that all people have unique gits and abilities and we encourage them to share their individual talents with others for the benefit of all;

5. We wish to participate in the building of a better world and we see science fiction as a means to suggest positive alternative futures;

4. We recognise that science fiction is a fun and popular medium and we no longer wish to be excluded from its fiction, art, cyberworlds of other creative forums;

3. We feel that we are rarely recognised or sufficiently acknowledged as members of the science fiction community and seek to redress that imbalance;

2. We want to challenge those who promote peaceful dialogue between humans and aliens to do likewise with those who may be seen as 'alien' or 'different' within the human race;

1. We want to have FUN and make new friends." [4]

Report on Queer Panel at World Science Fiction Convention

"Aussiecon 3, the 57th World Science Fiction Convention, was held at the Melbourne Convention Centre between 2nd to 6th September 1999.

During that convention, members of the science fiction and gay/lesbian communities joined with members of Spaced Out to run a discussion panel entitled: "Alternative Science Fiction, Alternative Sexuality".

Six panellists led a lively discussion, with keen onlookers and participants contributing various views.

The discussion explored why alternative sexuality is frequently overlooked by a genre that, so often, prides itself in its willingness to explore other types of new worlds and new possibilities.

This is a topic that, to the best of our knowledge, has never been actively explored before in an Australian science fiction forum." [5]

Queer Mini Sci Fi Convention

Out A Space Door Ticket
Author Kerry Greenwood and JOY-FM radio celebrity Addam Stobbs are guests at the Out A Space Mini-convention in Melbourne on 11 June 2000.

"Out A Space, the first mini convention for the club SPACED OUT, was held on Sunday 11 June (Queen's Birthday Weekend) in Prahran, Melbourne, Australia.

We believe it was the first such event in Australia aimed specifically at the GLBT community, although an unfortunate coincidence meant that SinpOZium, a "Slash" convention, was being held in Sydney on the same weekend.  (Undoubtedly, they picked the same weekend for the same reason: Queen's Birthday!)

The day began with a talk by Guest of Honour, Kerry Greenwood, a published Australian author.  She spoke of the various "queer" characters in many of her stories, and of the intricacies of getting a gay-type character included in a novel.

Our first panel featured Kerry, our club convenor, Geoff, and JOY-FM media personality, Addam Stobbs.  They discussed "Alternative Sexuality, Alternative Science Fiction", the topic having been selected due to popular demand at Aussiecon 3, last year's world SF Convention held in Melbourne..." [6]

Club History and Creative Aims

"Two years ago, one person decided it was time for queer people to create a space for themselves in the Melbourne science fiction scene. Spaced Out was born. It is a club which gives queer people a platform to weave wonderful yarns. We hope to inspire and excite." [7]

Call for Queer Characters in Star Trek

"The original "Star Trek" spoke of "boldly going where no one had gone before" and dared to tackle racism and equality on television. It boasted scripts that examined social issues and hid messages within allegorical stories. More than that, it inspired the hearts and souls of a generation of authors, artists, astronauts and scientists.

Subsequent incarnations of "Star Trek" have stumbled somewhat. It took four TV shows before "Star Trek" presented a black man (Ben Sisko) as a commander, and five shows before women got serious attention (Janeway, Torres and Seven of Nine). However slowly, the march of progress can be seen to move on.

In this spirit, we dare to suggest that it is time (nay, it is overdue time!) to introduce a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex person as a major and continuing character in "Star Trek"...

It ... seems foolish to deny ... that "Star Trek" was rescued from obscurity in the 1960s and 1970s by legions of fans, many of whom were heterosexual women who wrote libraries full of fanzines, particularly "slash" fanzines – the purported homosexual hijinks of Kirk, Spock and others. There are lessons there about consumer demand that the "Star Trek" creators appear yet to learn...

As we enter the so-called 21st century, let’s see if "Star Trek" can finally meet the challenge of its own ideals. If it’s good enough for "Alien Nation", "Quantum Leap", "Babylon 5" and "Farscape" to touch upon queer issues, then surely this iconic TV science fiction series can also cope with queers in space – and maybe even set a new standard, as it so often appears to claim..." [8]

Fan Response to this Call

A supportive SF fan in Canada wrote a response to the campaign:
The gay characters for Star Trek campaign is one I've also seen discussed with a local GLBT SF group called the Q Continuum, and with the Gaylaxians in the US. Trek should have a gay character or two, but again, time will eventually allow for it. Only now are the two versions (British and American) of Queer As Folk getting airtime in the United States, and once there is general acceptance by the public, openly gay characters will appear on television... but not before. [9]

Spaced Out Participates in Pride March 2002

"A hearty congratulations to those members and friends of Spaced Out who were able to participate in our entry for Melbourne's Annual Gay and Lesbian Pride March on 20 January 2002! We had a street audience of sixty thousand people (so we are told) and our involvement was enthusiastically received by all. A special thank you to members who turned up in costumes, representing a variety of generic aliens and characters from popular science fiction (special audience applause went to the gay dalek who cried "exfoliate!"). It should be pointed out that no-one in the audience would have felt that we were seriously suggesting that any specific SF media character was actually gay, but they all understood our implied message that any such character could be gay and that it would not detract from the mass audience's enjoyment of their favourite SF media programs. In effect, we refuted Hollywood's self-censorship of gays and lesbians - we blunted the censor's scissors." [10]

Club Website wins Ditmar Award

"Ditmar - We Won!

"Spaced Out is a club that allows us ... to boldly go where no fan has gone before."

These words were part of the "thank you" speech given by Spaced Out website co-editors, Miriam and Geoff, to a packed crowd at the presentation ceremony for the 2002 Ditmar Awards.

On Saturday 8 June 2002, the annual Australian Science Fiction Achievement ("Ditmar") Awards were presented as part of Convergence, the 41st Australian National Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne. Spaced Out was honoured by being co-recipients of a Ditmar Award in the category, "Best Fan Achievement - Other", which seeks to distinguish "other" fan efforts from printed publications ("fanzines") during the calendar year 2001 (our joint winner was Anthony Mitchell for "Mitch? 2 Tarts for the New Millennium").

The Ditmars are presented annually, and each year's short-listed nominees are voted upon by members of the current National Science Fiction Convention. This year's vote of confidence from our wider SF peers and friends is significant, given that a specifically queer SF club has never before won such an award in Australia.

Spaced Out ran against some very strong competition, so we should feel proud to have won an Award. Spaced Out's other Ditmar nominations were for Best Fan Writer: (2 nominations) Geoff and Adrian (the latter withdrew); Best Fan Artist: Miriam; Best Fan Achievement - Fanzine: (2 nominations) "Solar Spectrum" (anthology) and "Diverse Universe" (newsletter).

Spaced Out is a non-profit community group, so this Ditmar Award is a community achievement." [11]

Special Women's Issue of Newsletter

"This issue attempts to acknowledge and redress an imbalance within our club – the relative scarcity of women. We often moan about the prejudice shown GLBTI people, but fail to recognize the ongoing prejudice against women in a heterosexist world. Is the SF community any different?

Women make up slightly more than 50% of the world’s population, but have traditionally been largely left out of SF, either as participants or as subjects. That is changing. In examining the emerging face of SF, perhaps we can glimpse a future world where all people are treated equally.

DU #17 includes interviews with US author Melissa Scott and Australian author Kerry Greenwood. Two other Australian SF authors – Claire McKenna and Sue Bursztynski – have kindly contributed articles on the two most popular forms of fan fiction written by heterosexual females: gay ‘slash’ fiction and heterosexual Mary Sue stories. We have also included artwork, poetry and fiction, and an in-depth history of Women in SF. Readers will also find a review of a classic award-winning novel written by one of SF’s most famous women: Ursula Le Guin. We even have film reviews of media SF both old and new.

All of this material fits into our theme of examining the place of Women in SF – and some of it may have surprising links to gay/lesbian/queer issues...

We hope that this issue will prove to be a treat for our “XX”-Philes." [12]

Social Events

"The Spaced Out gang have been out and about this last twelve months. We celebrated Christmas 2008 with a Dr Who themed Christmas party at the Richmond library. Stephen B made some very yummy Sci Fi themed cakes, Wine and beer flowed ... Penguin and DK donated some books for prezzies and we had a gay old time.

In January we held a very successful banner making workshop at the [Victorian AIDS Council] (many thanks to all those who helped). This meant we had a great new banner to take to the Pride March on the 1st February.

Six Spaced Out die-hards braved the hot and dusty weather to march and do our bit for GLBT visibility in all its diversity - not to mention Sci Fi. As it says in X-Files, the truth, I mean the gays, are out there . . .

The group included who else but your friendly convenor, masquerading as ‘Servalan’ supreme commander and Stephen L as ‘Avon’ from Blake’s 7. Our little contingent was very warmly received by the crowd. Quite a bit of interest was shown in the club, attracting a few new members..." [13]

Television Tropes?

"The irony of how life can come full-circle was emphasised to me in 2012, when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation commissioned a six-part series entitled, Outland, telling the story of an imaginary ‘gay science fiction fan club’ that was curiously located within the Australian city which really did have such a club. The series was advertised as being an exploration of inclusion but it excluded its real-life counterparts: its generic disclaimer dissociated its fictional characters from any real-life role models, and its fictional ‘otherness’ was further emphasised by its predominantly white male characters displaying very little real diversity. To me, its stories lacked the excitement of our real-life exploits in Spaced Out, where we had taken ‘one small step’ into groundbreaking territory and attempted to ‘boldly go where no fan had gone before’. Ultimately, Outland inverted media science fiction subtext: whereas LGBTQIA+ SF fans had traditionally sought to interpret ‘otherness’ as metaphoric queerness; we could now interpret our queerness as comprising metaphoric ‘otherness’." [14]

Multiverse LGBT Science Fiction Pamphlet

Inspired by similar works from the Gaylactic Network in the USA, Spaced Out produced a four-page A5-sized (A4 turned sideways and folded in half) leaflet detailing significant gender and sexuality explorations within literary and media science fiction. This was distributed at the Multiverse 4 convention in June 2001, and is the first known such analysis from within the Australian science fiction community.

Photo Gallery


  1. ^ The Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet, Issue 4, July, 2002.
  2. ^ Dick 'Ditmar' Jenssen, A Few Words (and Photographs) on Convergence 2002, in Michael Waite (ed.), Trial and Air, # 10 & 11 (double Issue), August 2002, p. 23.
  3. ^ Spaced Out committee, "Welcome", OUT A SPACE mini convention program booklet, 9 June 2000, p. 1.
  4. ^ 'Countdown to the future: our Ten-Point Charter', adopted at the third meeting of Spaced Out, Melbourne, 13 August 1999.
  5. ^ Members of Spaced Out, "Alternative Universes: Reporting the Unconventional at a Convention", Diverse Universe #1, September 1999.
  6. ^ Anonymous, "Post-Convention Report: Our First Mini Convention!", Diverse Universe #4, July 2000, p. 1.
  7. ^ Geoff and Miriam, 'From the Editors', Solar Spectrum #1, January 2001, p. 5.
  8. ^ 'From the Editors', Diverse Universe #8, June 2001.
  9. ^ from a LoC by Lloyd Penney, in Ethel the Aardvark #100, January 2002, p. 10.
  10. ^ 'From the Editors', Diverse Universe #11, March 2002.
  11. ^ 'From the Editors', Diverse Universe #12, June 2002.
  12. ^ "From the Editors: The Token 'Why' Chromosome', Diverse Universe #17, September 2003 (Special Double Issue).
  13. ^ Cathy Larsen, "Convenor's Corner", Diverse Universe #24, April 2009, p. 3.
  14. ^ Geoff Allshorn, "From Queer to Eternity", Humanist Word blog, 8 November 2020.