No (More) Time For Sergeant Harris

Tyler and Sarah Harris 

St. Louis fan Tyler Harris joined the Army in November 2001 in response to 9/11. He signed up for eight years, with a four-year active duty commitment. He was trained in maintaining networking systems and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq before being released from active duty. He became part of the Individual Ready Reserves in 2006 to finish his eight year enlistment. However, he was recalled to active duty in December 2008 and sent back to Iraq with a unit of the Mississippi National Guard in June 2009.

Although his eight-year contract is due to expire in November, Harris is not going to be released from duty and faces the prospect of remaining in Iraq until his unit returns home in April 2010.

So Harris has taken the novel approach of blogging his protests and giving his story to a local newspaper columnist in an effort to get the Army to release him when his eight years are up.

On August 23 Bill McClellan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote a column about Harris titled: “Eight is enough, sergeant tells Army”.

His eight-year commitment will be finished in November, but for “the good of the service,” his termination date is being extended.

He is handling this the way you might expect a computer geek to handle it. He is blogging. He is asking people to contact senators and congressmen. You can read his blog at Be forewarned that some of the language is saltier than you’ll find in a family newspaper.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

Hugo Win Makes Weird Tales Editor a Local Celeb

Weird Tales’ winning the Best Semiprozine Hugo made a splash in editor Ann VanderMeer’s hometown paper, the Tallahassee (FL) Democrat:

She was all glammed-up for this year’s tony World Science Fiction Convention, attended by roughly 5,000 fans and industry people and known as a Really Big Deal in the sci-fi world. Decked out in a new ankle-length, pink-and-white flowered dress and pink shoes, VanderMeer was there as the fiction editor for Weird Tales, a dark-fantasy and sci-fi magazine first published in 1923. The magazine had been nominated for a Hugo Award.

But neither she nor the magazine’s editorial and creative director, 34-year-old Stephen Segal of Rockville, Md., thought they had much of a chance to win the “Best Semiprozine” award. Weird Tales (which has a circulation of 5,000 to 8,000, VanderMeer said) had never won – or even been nominated – for the award, which is given to the best small-press magazine with part-time staff.


Many people in Tallahassee link science fiction and the name VanderMeer with Ann’s husband, Jeff, a sci-fi writer. They’ve been married for seven years. Ann was married before, and has two grown children and a grandson. Ann and Jeff were long-time friends who shared a love of sci-fi and fantasy.

Since marrying, they’ve edited several anthologies together, including two “Best American Fantasy” collections from Prime Books.

For Ann, finding small fantasy-story gems has long been a passion. She started her own magazine, Silver Web, in 1988 in order to publish good sci-fi and fantasy. (Her last edition – she generally printed from 500 to 2,000 issues – came out in 2002.) And though she earns a small paycheck now for her work as a fiction editor at Weird Tales, it continues to be primarily a labor of love.

[Thanks to Michael Walsh for the link.]

Donald M. Grant Dies

 Donald M. Grant - photo by Andrew Porter, all rights reserved

Specialty press publisher Donald M. Grant passed away in Florida on August 19 after an illness lasting some years. He is survived by his wife, Shirley, and his two children.  

Don was member of PEAPS for a short time. (The Pulp Era Amateur Press Society founded by long-time SF fan Lynn Hickman). He’d been retired to Florida for the past several years, says Curt Phillips. 

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story. Photo by Andrew Porter, all rights reserved.]

John Hertz on Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Party

By John Hertz: If you thought an 89th-birthday party for Ray Bradbury at a bookshop would be crowded, you’d be right. If you thought it would be an occasion to buy his books and get them signed, you’d be right. As June Moffatt said when I reported by phone, these were good things.

Bookfellows, 238 N. Brand Bl., Glendale, CA 91203 (also called “Mystery and Imagination”, the name of their Website), is a new- and used-book shop with a fine s-f stock. The party started at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 22nd, Bradbury’s actual birthday. The Cosmic Joker keeps making me type “Bardbury”. This too may be a good thing.

On a giant greeting-card shopowners Christine & Malcolm Bell had written “You’re a living book”, so below I wrote “because you’ve set us all afire”. A chocolate cake with orange icing was decorated with a Jack-o’-lantern wearing eyeglasses. We all sang “Happy Birthday”.

Outside, which was no less crowded, only different, George Clayton Johnson was talking about heroes. I said, “You yourself are one of the heroes.” He said, “You’re observant as ever.” I bowed. He did too.

Inside, Matthew Tepper and Charles Lee Jackson II told me they hadn’t known about the party, just came looking for books. Tepper said, “This is the second time I’ve gone to a bookshop and found Ray Bradbury there.” It was so crowded Tepper took out a handphone and called Christine Bell to ask whether she had a book he wanted.

I told Jan Bender I was sad she hadn’t exhibited in the Worldcon Art Show at Montréal. She said she’d been daunted by the prospect of Customs problems. I asked if she’d tried the special procedure the Art Show had worked out, better, I’d heard, than Torcon III in 2003. She said she’d heard nothing from the Worldcon at all, indeed wondering if her Attending Membership payment had gotten lost, so that upon arriving she dutifully paid for an Attending Membership only to be asked farther down the line “Why do you want two Attending Memberships?”

Bo Derek brought Bradbury a birthday present, which shows how little I know about celebrities. It was a good party.

Ray Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Party

By John King Tarpinian: Ray Bradbury had two birthday parties on Saturday. The first one took place at one of his favorite places, a bookshop. This bookshop, Mystery and Imagination, is owned by dear friends of Ray of some thirty plus years. People that came to show their love for Ray were long time friends, William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson, Earl Hamner, Jr. and Do Berek (she’s still a 10 guys).

Many gifts were given, twenty-seven bottles of wine alone. Speeches were made. Much love and admiration filled the room to capacity. It was estimated that 300 people joined in at the bookshop while another 100 attended the theatre that evening. It was a wonderful day and the 90th party is in the planning stages. Today, Sunday, Ray is spending time with his four daughters and eight grandchildren. I wish to thank them for sharing their dad/grandpa with us on his actual birthday. Live Forever!

Photos: (by JKT) (1) Ray Bradbury’s 89th birthday cake; (2) Sylvia Mancini helps Ray blow out the candles; (3) William F. Nolan greets Ray; (4) George Clayton Johnson wishes Ray happy birthday; (5) Earl Hamner Jr. standing behind Ray; (6) Bo Derek poses for photo with Ray; (7) A little confetti got loose… (8) Ray’s birthday card; (9) An Irish hotel baggage label, one of Tarpinian’s birthday gifts to Ray. 

Ray Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Cake Sylvia Mancini helps Ray blow out the candles William F. Nolan greets Ray George Clayton Johnson greets Ray Earl Hamner Jr. standing behind Ray Bo Derek wishes Ray Bradbury happy birthday A little confetti got loose Ray Bradbury’s birthday card Irish hotel baggage label given to Ray by Tarpinian

Jerry Weist Medical Update

Author and collectibles dealer Jerry Weist is battling multiple myeloma, reports Andrew Porter. The cancer was caught early, with no complications in his vital organs or other parts of his body. He’s just started on chemotherapy, an experimental program in which stem cells are used to fight the disease, presently being used to treat 15 people in Israel and 35 in the USA.

Weist is the author of Bradbury: An Illustrated Life, The Comic Art Price Guide, and The Art of Frank R. Paul. From 1990 to 2001 he was a consultant at Sotheby’s specializing in popular culture, overseeing the auction of Sam Moskowitz’s collection.

A few years ago Weist acquired the Harry Warner collection and sold the fanzines to James Halperin of Dallas, co-owner of Heritage Rare Coin Galleries. Not long afterward Askance editor John Purcell interviewed Halperin and reported Weist wanted to write a book about fanzines.

Pulpcon 38 Cancelled

Evidently Pulpcon did not survive to hold number 38, which had been scheduled for August 14-16. Stephen Haffner’s site lists the event as having been cancelled.

File 770 has followed the story of two rival pulp conventions since hearing about the schism in the Pulpcon committee last year. A breakaway group launched a new con, Pulpfest, which took place in Columbus, OH the last weekend in July.

If You Follow Comic Cons

Despite its name, Convention Scene carries little more than hype and hoopla about comic cons. Searches for “worldcon,” “Westercon” and “Loscon” didn’t return a single item.

The title of one link promised some fanhistorical excitement, the “History of the San Diego Comic Con Slideshow”, but didn’t deliver. Its makers seem to have little awareness of anything earlier than the past 10 years.  

The beginning — the Golden State Comic Con of 1970 – is represented by nothing more than an advertising flyer promising big name writers and artists. Fortuitously, I can report on Ray Bradbury’s 89th birthday his name headlined the list of celebrities at the original Comic Con. Others included Jack Kirby and A.E. Van Vogt.

The slideshow says George Lucas attended in 1976 to raise awareness of the movie he was then trying to get released. There’s no photo of George, just an image of R2-D2. (Strange to remember how fandom was enlisted to help make Twentieth Century actually release the film. I scheduled publicist Charlie Lippincott for a similar presentation at the 1976 Westercon.)

There are few photos from the early Comic Cons and those fail to identify most of the people we’re looking at, up until the last 10 years of the montage.

However, I considered the slideshow well worth my time because it was my first exposure to a Vuvox collage. I expect there’s some fun I can have with that technology myself.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

A Facebook Taxonomy

CNN’s Brandon Griggs is calling out “The 12 Most Annoying Types of Facebookers.” For example:

The Chronic Inviter. “Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me. Which ‘Star Trek’ character are you? Here are the ‘Top 5 cars I have personally owned.’ Here are ’25 Things About Me.’ Here’s a drink. What drink are you? We’re related! I took the ‘What President Are You?’ quiz and found out I’m Millard Fillmore! What president are you?”

It feels like everybody I’ve known for the past 40 years joined Facebook this summer. They are dear and lovely people. But being dear and lovely doesn’t necessarily make a person immune from carrying on like one of the 12 types Griggs describes in his article.