Snapshots 88 Keys

Here are 9 developments of interest to fans.

(1) Get Those Darned Kids Off My Lawn Department: Famed book dealer Bud Plant sent these thoughts about Comic-Con to his list:

With the change in the kind of crowd that comes to Comic-Con — and the profusion of material to be found at the show — what was for a very long time our most important show has become, frankly, more work that reward. Our customers are frustrated trying to get tickets, or finding hotels they can afford ($200-$300 a night!?), or dealing with aisles and booths jammed with eager young television and film folks who are here for the freebies and the movie stars. Every year we see less of the collectors who once made this show the mecca for any comics or fantasy art fan.

Nonetheless, a great many wonderful artists and friends are here, so it is a tough show for us to walk away from.

It’s even funnier when you realize that the good old days he longs for are when Comic-Con was drawing “only” 50- or 60- thousand people.

(2) “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

If you nevertheless insist on an above-ground hobbit hole, Wooden Wonders has the solution to your problem:

Today, the couple- via their Wooden Wonders family business- are the only ones in the world to sell Hobbit Holes officially licensed with Middle-earth Enterprises. They build these wee shelters as small as chicken coops ($999) and as large as 16-foot diameter, 8-foot 2-inch-high cottages ($15,000 to $20,000 for an insulated version with finished floors, windows and screens).

(3) Enjoy the Jaime Lannister vs. Eddard Stark Lightsaber Battle [YouTube]. As someone said, “An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”

(4) KC in 2016 bidder Ruth Lichtwardt is posting reminders about the city’s charms. Here’s Joe Posnanski’s comment about the famous barbecue:

Kansas City is not a town you fall in love with on the first day, or even the second. The first thing you discover is probably the barbecue. It’s amazing and it’s everywhere. You walk into Gates the first time, and someone yells, “Hi may I help you?” at you, and maybe you are flustered and order the first thing you see on the menu. A short end. A long end. The sliced beef. The beautiful thing is that it doesn’t matter. It’s all amazing. You go to Arthur Bryant’s, the real one, 18th and Brooklyn, and it looks dingy, and you hear that screen door slam behind you, and you ask what burnt ends are.

I was part of a group of LASFSians intent on visiting Arthur Bryant’s when we were in town for the 1976 Worldcon. We knew Calvin Trillin had praised the food but didn’t know anything else about the restaurant. Aware that in those days some Midwestern places were still a little formal, Allan Rothstein convinced me to call and ask if there was a dress code. The woman who answered said, “Just wear clothes, honey.” We did.

(5) The Language in Science Fiction and Fantasy by Susan Mandala “challenges two widely held but poorly substantiated beliefs circulating about science fiction and fantasy – that they are a) written in plain and unremarkable prose and b) apt to present characters that are flat types rather than fully realised individuals.”  

It would be interesting to know what texts the author has selected to defend sf and fantasy against charges of being prone to offer “characters that are flat types rather than fully realized individuals” because I’d think a hypothetical prosecutor would have no trouble finding hundreds of historic examples to support the charges. Though an enthusiastic sf fan, it used to bother me that hardly anyone in the sf field could match James Michener’s ability to create believable characters – just picking him as a representative bestselling writer. The field has improved dramatically since then, I’m grateful to say.

(6) Fantasy author Joseph Bentz’ five reasons he keeps writing books include the pleasure of making connections with readers:

I spent many years writing my first novel, Song of Fire, creating a world filled with people and places that only I knew. I remember how strange it seemed at first when the book was finally published and readers would ask me about certain scenes and characters. My first thought would always be, how do you know about that? Who told you? I felt as if the person had entered my private realm, almost as if they were walking around in my brain. It was disconcerting at first, but of course it’s the whole idea of writing. As a reader, I can connect not only with living writers, but also with authors who have been dead for decades or centuries. I love the idea that strangers I’ll never meet—including strangers who may read my books after I’m gone—can know me in that way.

(7) In the middle of watching a Japanese anime titled Cat Planet Cuties, Willard Stone was surprised to hear the characters, out of the blue, start singing the praises of the work of American author Edmond Hamilton and Captain Future.

He says, “It is all the stranger that a story featuring cat girls from outer space would refer to serious sci-fi classics.”

I’m glad to see we’re getting rid of these sorts of confining gender roles.

(8) “Trajectory of a Falling Batman” [PDF file] is a physics paper by students at the University of Leicester:

The film Batman Begins shows the character of Batman gliding using a rigid form of his cape. This paper assesses the feasibility of such a glide and finds that while a reasonable distance could be travelled if gliding from a tall building, the speed at which Batman would be travelling would be too dangerous to stop without some method of slowing down.

Spoilsports. But I do admit it’s interesting to see physics students beating Mythbusters to the question.

(9) Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson shines the spotlight on the zine’s revival with a Pick Your Favorite Title Design where fans are asked to choose among the zine’s varied offerings since 1926.

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, Steven H Silver, Ruth Lichtwardt, and Dan Goodman.]

Hertz: Backwards Ran Westercon Until Reeled the Mind

By John Hertz: Westercon LXV “Conclusion” may have been named for the Mayan calendar, or things too fierce to mention, but anyhow it ran backwards. The Dead Dog party (until the last dog is – ) was on Wednesday night. Closing Ceremonies, Thursday. Opening Ceremonies, Sunday. What we had Sunday night must have been a Live Dog party.

For me the starburst was Elizabeth Berrien. Once her wonderful wire sculpture was everywhere in our community. Then we lost touch. Now the Art Show had her work, in every shape and size. In the interim she’s won awards round the world. The electronic can visit her Website <>.

Chaz Baden said “Instead of a speech I’m giving a Guest of Honor party,” attended by Bozelee, Hobb, two Wus. The walls were covered with aloha shirts and attempts to answer “Who is Chaz Baden?” One photo showed him with a bear.

Friday morning there was James Daugherty. He said “I thought this was where I needed to be.” The Lonestarcon III table had Rainier cherries. At Regency Dancing a woman said “I always come to watch you teach.” All weekend the Hospitality Suite was very generous.

I led the Canticle for Leibowitz talk alone. Was Lazarus, if that’s who he was, a fantasy element? From the audience: “religious artifact” is our default. What did the barbarian warriors do for the story? I said, this book is knowledge fiction. Berrien, as ever, had wire in hand.

The Tonopah Westercon leaked through the time walls. Kuma Bear gave its party on Friday night. I had brought whole-wheat Goldfish for his birthday. Gaming, 2:30 a.m.; a man seeing a badge I wore said “Trantorcon in 23,309! I love it!”

Saturday afternoon I moderated “The Redoubtable Woman”, iMage, Pierce Ludke who had some fine pictures in the Art Show, Melissa Quinn. From the audience: Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5 is competent and vulnerable. I said Chic Young’s Blondie, who began as a flapper, became the keel of the family, her physical beauty carefully shown and irrelevant.

Jon Rogers, who was in the Art Show with some Buck Rogers – in the Green Room he’d told of getting a license – joined me for Double Star. He’d done the math; a ship from Earth accelerating at two gravities would indeed reach Mars in two days. How vital that Lorenzo really had greatness. How well Heinlein managed the telling detail.

The Wus and I judged the Masquerade, Betty Bigelow the Workmanship Judge. We gave Best Master to “Will o’ the Wisp” (Original; Melissa Nichols; Workmanship Award for Most Creative Use of Materials), its walk truly spooky, its eyes alight. “Prince Zuko” (Master; Re-Creation) won Best Choreography in Class (Torrey Stenmark; Workmanship Award for Best Make-Up) shooting silk streamers for the original’s fire.

Randy Byers tended bar at the London for ’14 Worldcon bid party, with its strange Underground signs, and the Westercon LXVI come-’n’-get-it party with Roche & Trembley’s drink-mixing Thinbot stealing the show. Amy Thomson & Edd Vick gave DUFF a tile from their house, with a color Atom drawing, for the next auction. Tom Whitmore was one of my hall-costume judges. The Other Karen Anderson chatted thoughtfully about dance. I missed Ulrika O’Brien but we talked by phone later.

Sunday, Flatland with Jerry Kaufman. Abbott, as a clergyman, must have intended the analogy between prophecy and the Sphere, and as a grammarian, the pun that the most acute Triangles were the most dull. Kaufman said, right after the Square explains Flatland women have no intelligence his wife speaks up intelligently. I said, how neatly made it all is.

I traded Jon Gustafson stories with Jackie Nilsson, Kelly Freas stories with David Ratti. Mah Jongg, Chinese-style as Gary Louie once found, duly emerged. On my way to the airport I met a man reading Frankenstein. He said “She’s so poetic, so insightful.”

2012 Comic-Con Masquerade

Jean Martin features the achievements of Bay Area costumers at the Comic-Con masquerade in her article for the Examiner. And there’s a great photo of Best in Show (and Lucasfilm prize) winner “Project Runway: All Star Wars,” in which all the usual characters’ costumes are rendered more fashionable. (“Use the glue gun, Luke!”) For example, Cordelia Willis in her C-3PO costume looks like she just stepped out of a Busby Berkeley musical.

2012 Endeavour Award Finalists

Five novels are finalists for the 2012 Endeavour Award, which honors a distinguished science fiction or fantasy book, either a novel or a single-author collection, created by a writer living in the Pacific Northwest:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
City of Ruins by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
River Marked by Patricia Briggs
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
When The Saints by Dave Duncan

The finalists were selected from entries read and scored by seven preliminary readers. The winning entry will be chosen by 2012 Endeavour judges Gregory Benford, Lawrence M. Schoen, and Susan Shwartz.

The award comes with a $1,000 honorarium.

The winner will be announced November 2 at OryCon, Oregon’s major science fiction convention.

The full press release follows the jump.

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2011 Shirley Jackson Awards Winners

 The winners of the 2011 Shirley Jackson Awards were announced at Readercon 23 on July 15, 2012.

Witches on the Road Tonight, Sheri Holman (Grove Press)

“Near Zennor,” Elizabeth Hand (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)

“The Summer People,” Kelly Link (Tin House 49/Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, Candlewick Press)

“The Corpse Painter’s Masterpiece,” M. Rickert (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sept/Oct, 2011)

After the Apocalypse: Stories, Maureen F. McHugh (Small Beer Press)

Ghosts by Gaslight, edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers (Harper Voyager)

Tarpinian: A Comic-Con Tribute to Ray Bradbury

Rachel Bloom speaks at Comic-Con's Bradbury tribute. (Photos by John King Tarpinian.)

By John King Tarpinian: The Saturday evening tribute to Ray was very beautiful and moving.  The hall sat 4,000 people and followed a Gleek Fest.  I know of a few people who attended the Glee event in order to get a good seat for the tribute.

Even with having a line-up and an outline we had fifteen minutes to set-up and decide how to actually do the panel.   It was decided to take the tables off the stage and have a single podium so each speaker would be able to give their personal tribute to Ray.

Sam Weller was the organizer-host (The Bradbury Chronicles, Listen to the Echoes & Shadow Show).  He shared podium duties with Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics).  Each tribute was separated by video clips of Ray over the decades.

First up was Rachel Bloom who had prepared a PG-13 version of her Hugo-nominated song.  When she came on stage she asked the assembled masses if they wanted to hear the CENSORED version or the real version.  Not one person in the hall opted for the CENSORED version and Rachel added some audience “call & response.” 

A number of the people who spoke have known Ray for half a century or more, William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson and Stan Freberg.  Both Bill and George let people know how Ray helped those two young writers.  If you youngins’ do not know the name Stan Freberg, just Google “Ray Bradbury Stan Freberg prunes” then sit back and prepare to laugh out loud.  Ray introduced Stan’s wife to him and was best man at their wedding.

Joe Hill gave a lovely tribute, of course.  He mentioned he had only met Ray the one time at the 2010 Comic-Con and that a man came over to him asking if he’d like to say hello to Ray.  I am proud to say that I was “that man.”  Joe also read a moving tribute from Frank Darabont.

Margaret Atwood had never met Ray and was supposed to visit him earlier this week but that was not to be.  She talked about how she read, as a young girl, Ray’s books as they first came out. That she used some of his themes in her books.  In The Handmaid’s Tale she used that women were not allowed to read because of Fahrenheit 451.

Marc Scott Zicree told how he first met Ray.   As a young man, Marc had done a “mixed tape” mashing up various audio renditions of Moby Dick.  Marc handed this out to a few friends.  A copy wound up with Ray.  Marc says he came home one day to find a message from Ray on his answering machine asking him to call.  Marc was afraid he was in trouble when in fact Ray loved the tape and they became fast friends.

On a final personal note, the only times I attended Comic-Con were with Ray.  Not a bad way to visit the zoo.  I did not speak but in talking to the guest speakers backstage I told how Ray’s hearing aids really did not work well with the den of noise in the hall but that hundreds of times an hour you could hear people shout out such phrases as, “OMG it’s Ray Bradbury.”  “I LOVE YOU RAY.”  “THANK YOU Ray.”  But the one that really got to me was when a young father and his son, who was riding on his shoulders said to the son, “There goes Ray Bradbury the greatest writer of all time.”  Once a man came up to Ray, got down on his knees bowed three times, got up and just walked away without saying a word.  There were lots of laughs, hugs and tears backstage and that will be how I will always remember Comic-Con.

Sam Weller

Margaret Atwood

Gary Gianni

George Clayton Johnson

Joe Hill

Marc Scott Zicree

Mark Evanier

William F. Nolan

Stan Freberg

The History of Bruce Gillespie

There’s a fascinating interview of Bruce Gillespie, one of Australia’s most admired fans, on Rowena Cory Daniells’ site. Gillespie opens up about himself and also offers a lot of insights into fannish culture and history:

Q: Your work had received three Hugo Nominations before you were 30. You have received total of 45 Ditmar Nominations and 19 wins, and The A Bertram Chandler Award in 2007, plus you were fan guest of honour at AussieCon 3, the World SF Convention in 1999, is there anything left that you would like to achieve?

A: Like any other fanzine editor or writer, I would actually like to win the Hugo Award for either Best Fanzine or Best Fan Writer! …However, in 2009 I was awarded the Best Fan Writer in the annual FAAN Awards, given by my peers, the fanzine writers and editors who attend the Corflu convention in America. I count that as a great honour…

The post is richly  illustrated with many rare fannish photos.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Bruce Gillespie and Brian Aldiss at Stonehenge in 1974.

Amy Rutledge (1961-2012)

Georgia fan Amy Rutledge passed away July 12 from complications of diabetes and high blood pressure reports Nancy Skidmore on the ASFO list.  A memorial service will be held sometime after LibertyCon.

Rutledge showed dogs, too, and even that activity hinted at her fannish interests – she co-owned a dog with “Lothlorien” in its name.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Amy Rutledge seated beside Dan Taylor at Atomicon 2002.

Richard D. Zanuck (1934-2012)

Richard D. Zanuck, US movie producer, died July 13, aged 77. Films include Cocoon (1985), Chain Reaction (1996), Deep Impact (1998), the Planet of the Apes remake (2001), Reign of Fire (2002), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Dark Shadows (2012) and Hidden (due 2013).

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]