Harlan Speaks From The Hospital

On Friday HarlanEllisonBooks.com released a recorded message of Ellison speaking from his hospital room.

Harlan, practicing the Always Be Closing mantra, finishes by saying  – “Please buy books.”

Harlan Ellison Books editor Jason Davis also reported Ellison has progressed so far he is working again.

In the two weeks since “the episode,” he’s nearly recovered the full use of the affected limbs and–as of my visit on Thursday, the 23rd of October–has set up his portable typewriter and returned to work. I’ve visited Harlan four times and found his dexterity much improved on each subsequent visit.

Jeanne Gomoll Resigns from WisCon

Ending a 38 year association with WisCon, Jeanne Gomoll resigned from the convention committee and the board of its parent organization, SF3, on October 5. “Leaving it has broken my heart,” she wrote.

Gomoll was chair of WisCon 20 (1996) and 30 (2006), and served as President of SF3 from 1992 to 1994 and 2010 to 2013.

Gomoll made the announcement on WisCon’s Facebook page and also sent a copy for use by File 770. After an introductory paragraph paraphrased above, the rest of her statement says:

2014 has been a strange year. In August I was honored by Loncon 3 as a guest of honor at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, in part for my work on WisCon’s concom. But during the con, a part of me was thinking about the situation back home and sometimes I felt a bit as if I was attending worldcon using a secret identity.

Through the summer and early Fall of 2014 a complicated, painful, and very intense conversation raged about how we should deal with fellow members who caused damage to the con. A number of people resigned from the concom in the midst of the conversation, including three past chairs and several others who have held major responsibilities. The surviving concom has done a remarkable job recently in recruiting to fill open positions and I frankly regret that I will not get the chance to work with some of the new folks. But the loss of both experienced hands and institutional knowledge will make it a difficult year.

I will not engage in discussion about the substance of our disagreement here. I have always felt that in any volunteer organization, the people who do the work have the right to choose the process for that work. So I will leave the discussion to those who it most affects now. In brief, I disagreed with the process that was chosen by the majority of the concom and so I felt I had to resign.

Working on the concom is a very different thing than attending WisCon. The two are intimately connected of course. But my resignation from the concom does not affect my support of WisCon. I will be forever proud of my work on WisCon and for the space it offers the feminist science fiction community and its allies. I count myself lucky to have worked on WisCon for as long as I have, and hope that it continues for many more years. I plan to attend WisCon 39 in 2015 and many future WisCons.

Internet Dumpster Diving

Suddenly I’m getting dozens of hits on a post I withdrew last week mere hours after it appeared because Jason Sanford put up a link to the Google cache file. Well, I knew people were going to look at that — Google guarantees our words have those seven-league boots we were warned about. Therefore I made a point of annoucing that I’d withdrawn it at the same time I deleted the post.

Jason Sanford’s supposed to be a smart guy. Why does he insist on repeating my mistake?

Yes, Jason, it had occurred to me, too, that Andrew Porter was secretary of NyCon 3 and might have a basis for his claim. But once Ted White, convention chair and the person featured in Porter’s claim, denied the story I decided that kind of story couldn’t remain without corroboration.

If Sanford wants he can tell his readers “I’m Jason Sanford. I stand behind Andrew Porter’s story one hundred percent.” But he hasn’t done that. His approach is, “I pulled this story out of Mike Glyer’s dumpster, so this somehow excuses me from any responsibility for its truthfulness.”

Please do better than that Jason.

Harlan Ellison Update 10/23

Dennis Coleman told The Harlan Ellison Facebook Fanclub on October 23, “He’s doing OK but really wants to get out of the hospital. Not quite ready yet, but soon we hope.” And the staff of The Simpsons has sent him a gift box full of cheeses.

Jason Davis announced he’s recorded a brief message from Harlan that will be mailed to people on the HarlanEllisonBooks.com mailing list Friday. I hastened to subscribe. If you want to read it badly enough, go thou and do likewise.

Inaugural Harris Collection Literary Award

George R. R. Martin and Tor publisher Tom Doherty are being presented the Harris Collection Literary Award today, October 23, at Brown University in Providence, RI. They are the first recipients of the new award celebrating the influence of literature in popular culture.

The award is named for Caleb Fiske Harris, Brown class of 1838, who assembled a collection of over 5,000 works of poetry, drama and early American history. After his death in 1881 it was bought by a relative and eventually bequeathed to the university.

[Via Locus Online.]

WisCon Releases Statement
on 2014 Co-Chair Evans

WisCon has announced that “in response to member concerns” 2011 and 2014 co-chair Piglet Evans will not be handling harassment reports in any committee position she may hold in the future, nor will she serve in any of the convention’s Safety positions. (See “Piglet recuses herself from harassment process”.)

As if to allay skeptics, they added: “We further guarantee that she will be held to this.”

In recent months WisCon and its parent organization SF3 have issued a series of apologies about mishandling two harassment complaints. Piglet Evans was a point of contact for at least one of these complaints (screencap at Radish Reviews).

An Unprofitable Day’s Work

Unless extras are getting paid a lot more than I’ve heard, someone’s about to take a hell of a loss on their gig as a background extra in Batman v. Superman. An extra is facing a $5 million fine after blabbing details about the movie in violation of a non-disclosure agreement, according to two websites (here and here).


The extra told a reporter for Detroit’s NBC affiliate that a fight scene between Batman and Lex Luthor was shot in the art museum on the Michigan State University campus.

She also leaked that the part of Robin will be played by a woman, reports The Guardian — Robin a.k.a. Carrie Kelley will be played by Hunger Games: Catching Fire actress Jena Malone.

As for the $5M fine – I’m curious if such a fine might really get paid — are extras insured? — or if this is just one of those Hollywood numbers bandied about for publicity.

The Most Valuable Hugo

When Ray Bradbury’s 2004 Retro Hugo brought $28,734 in an estate auction last month that made me wonder — What individual Hugo Award is worth the most money?

There wasn’t much reason to wonder before. In all the other transactions I knew about the Hugo sold for $2,000 or less. Forry Ackerman’s Retro Hugo, part of a lot of six awards, auctioned for $1,500 in 2009. Emsh’s 1961 Best Professional Artist Hugo sold for $1,075 in 2011. And Harry Warner Jr.’s 1972 Best Fan Writer Hugo, offered together with copies of his books, was part of a lot that went for $2,000 in 2012.

Why did Bradbury’s Hugo command a much higher price? For three main reasons.

  • It is associated with a great sf writer who is also a media celebrity.
  • It was given for his most iconic work, Fahrenheit 451.
  • And the award is pretty, too: the wooden base is shaped to remind one of a tricorn hat, with 13 stars on one side, reflecting that the 2004 Worldcon was hosted in Boston, the cradle of American independence.

Are there Hugos that might fetch a price even higher than Bradbury’s?

I think people who bid on a Hugo Award have an affinity for the sf field and know why the award is important. With that in mind, it could be argued that Robert Silverberg’s 1956 Hugo for Most Promising New Author should be one of the most valuable, not just for his literary output, but because he’s repeatedly made that award the turning point of a funny comment while emceeing or presenting at Hugo ceremonies over the years. Unfortunately, the fanhistory we cherish rarely translates into cash value (or we’d all be rich!)

What about Hugos won by the sf writers with the biggest reputations, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke?

Heinlein’s 1961 Best Novel Hugo for Stranger In A Strange Land must be worth a pretty penny – an enduringly popular book widely read outside of fandom that became embedded in Sixties popular culture. Or there is his 1960 Best Novel Hugo for Starship Troopers (1960) – a veteran or military sf fan with deep pockets might bid that up (and in that case, the bug-hunting movie based on it makes it all the more attractive, despite how bad the film actually was.)

In Isaac Asimov’s case, the 1966 Hugo given to Foundation as Best All-Time Series is probably his most valuable – voted in recognition of his most iconic work, the series whose concept of psychohistory is credited by Nobel laureate Paul Krugman for sparking his interest in economics. Asimov also enjoys an enduring celebrity as witnessed by the attachment of his name to Microsoft’s recently-announced computer telemetry system.

The Arthur C. Clarke Hugo I expect collectors would pay the most for, by far, is his 1969 Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo for 2001: A Space Odyssey – always assuming he received a rocket for that in the first place, as I tend to expect he would have based on how the official Hugo Awards site credits the movie:

[Paramount] Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick; based on the story “The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke

Beyond the Big Three, it would be a mistake to overlook the media appeal of Philip K. Dick and the potential market for his 1963 Best Novel Hugo for The Man In The High Castle. PKD’s name is frequently invoked by the critics of our dystopian present, and his works have been turned into movies like Bladerunner, Total Recall and Minority Report featuring some of Hollywood’s most bankable stars.

All the Hugos I have mentioned so far follow the standard rocket-on-a-wooden-base design, so the artistry of the award isn’t a factor that would enhance their value. (Maybe just the reverse in the caseof Arthur C. Clarke’s 1956 Hugo for the Best Short Story, “The Star,” which was made with an Oldsmobile Rocket 88 hood ornament…)

Arthur C. Clarke receives Hugo Award from chairman Dave Kyle at the 1956 Worldcon, NyCon II.

Arthur C. Clarke receives Hugo Award from chairman Dave Kyle at the 1956 Worldcon, NyCon II.

But over the past 30 years most Worldcons have commissioned Hugo bases that depart from the cliché plinth-and-rocket. They all have their advocates and among my favorites are:

However, my absolute favorite is Tim Kirk’s base for the 1976 Hugo, co-designed with Ken Keller, a cold-cast resin base wreathed with a dragon. Tragically, there isn’t a good image of it online. (After looking at the photo on the official site you’ll be questioning my sanity: “That’s the most beautiful Hugo base? It looks like a rocket on an oil can!”) But I’ve seen one up close many times at Larry Niven’s home. I think it’s quite beautiful.

So looking at who won the Hugos of 1976, one prospect jumped out as having the perfect combination of attributes to bring a good price at auction.

Best Dramatic Presentation

  • A Boy and His Dog (1975) [LQ/JAF] Directed by L. Q. Jones; Screenplay by L. Q. Jones and Wayne Cruseturner; Story by Harlan Ellison

The question, as with 2001: A Space Odyssey, is whether Ellison got a copy of the rocket, but for purposes of this discussion I’ll assume he did. Ellison enjoys the celebrity built on a long career of writing sf, fantasy and horror in all media – print, TV, movies, comics, as a Grammy-nominated voice actor. He’s even been in a commercial or two — remember “Harlan Ellison, Noted Futurist” plugging Geo Metros? “A Boy and His Dog” is one of his best-known stories. And there is a legion of Ellison collectors snapping up everything he produces. Just imagine the market for an Ellison Hugo?

So unless somebody can talk me out of it, I nominate the Clarke 2001 and Ellison A Boy and His Dog Hugos as the most valuable out there.

Vintage Trek and Batman Clips

By James H. Burns: It’s easy — particularly across a matter of decades! — to lose sight of the era, or milieu, in which a teleseries, or movie, first appeared. I’m intrigued by this sequence of clips someone put together of original commercials that aired during a Star Trek broadcast in 1967.

I’m reminded to ask about what remains one of the few Star Trek mysteries – why did NBC (or Desilu?) come up with that alternate series title logo — one which appeared on so much of the show’s initial merchandising and advertisements?  Although no one could have known that Trek’s TYPOGRAPHY would also become near iconic, it’s odd that anyone thought that using a logo NOT featured on the series itself was a good idea!)

Also of note is this relatively recently discovered Adam West-as-Batman public service announcement for our government’s once-upon-a-time youngsters’ savings stamps/bank program:

For a stunning reason, in a way, which will become evident!

(In all my years of following “Batmania” — going back to its 1966 origins! — I don’t recall ever having seen this!)