Burns: Happy Birthday, George Wells

By Jim Burns: Today is the 70th birthday of that other notable Wells, longtime science fiction fan, George!

George Wells, a native New Yorker (from SuffolkCounty, Long Island), attended his first Lunacons in 1958 and 1960), and then… College helped intiate a long gap from fandom!  He became a librarian (with a Masters Degree), and returned to the convention scene in 1972… And soon also became involved with APA fandom.

George and his wife, Jill (nee Simmons) –soon to celebrate their thirty-sixth anniversary — met via a local Star Trek club she co-founded in Suffolk, and moved to Arizona, some years ago… George is still a big-time SF fan, and their next convention sojourn will be to Deep Southcon, in April!

2013 Smofcon Website Up


Smofcon 31 will be held December 6-8 at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel.

The annual convention for sf convention runners is chaired this year by Diane Lacey. Her committee includes Ruth Lichtwardt, Catherine Crockett, Debra Yeung, Chris Smith, Mark Olson, Priscilla Olson, Jeff Orth, Claire Beaumier and Tim Sellmer. 

The con’s theme is “Learning From The Past, Looking To The Future.”

Current membership price is $50 Canadian.

Keep Watching The Sky, Part 2

Despicable Me 2 is another movie with flying advertising. But it’s not quite a case of “Me, too!” as the “Despicablimp” takes a retro-tech approach compared with Star Trek’s hi-tech drone formation.

Tricked out like one of the film’s iconic yellow minions, the “Despicablimp” is traveling eastbound across the U.S. It’s due to reach El Paso on March 29 on a tour that ends in Boston on May 13.

Follow its progress at Despicablimp Command Center.

The movie will make its World Premiere in Hollywood on June 22

Mitchell Hooks (1923-2013)

Shores of Space

Illustrator and cover artist Mitchell Hooks, 89, died the week of March 18th. His covers appeared on paperbacks from Avon, Bantam, Dell, Fawcett, and others; his illustrations were used by numerous magazines, including Cosmopolitan, The Ladies’ Home Journal, McCall’s, Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post, and Woman’s Day.

Although not primarily known for his SF covers, he did several, as illustrated here.

Today’s Inspiration has a multi-part reprint of Gary Lovisi’s interview with Mitchell Hooks from 1988 originally published in Paperback Parade #7.

He also designed film posters, including the first James Bond movie, Dr. No — for which he painted the iconic image of Sean Connery as Bond.

In 1999, he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Keep Watching The Sky

Star Trek logo formed by lighted drones flying in formation over London Bridge.

Star Trek logo formed by lighted drones flying in formation over London’s Tower Bridge.

Drones often make the news when used in warfare, or to stalk reclusive celebrities. Now they have reached the literal nadir of civilized existence — as self-propelled advertising material.    

Londoners watching the night sky on Saturday, March 23 saw a fleet of 30 illuminated drones flying in formation as the Star Trek logo. Paramount Pictures staged the demonstration to coincide with Earth Hour.

Did anybody recognize it? How many of you, if you saw that without anyone around to explain it, would say, “Oh, that’s the Star Trek logo!”

Even now when I look at it my first thought is, “Oh, that’s the shape of a typical ATom cartoon character! Who else has legs like that?”

To show you what I’m talking about, compare the drone formation with this illo ATom sent to Avedon Carol. Avedon herself remarked the character’s idiocyncratic anatomy when she posted it in 2004, telling readers “And no, I’m not actually shaped like that. Atom’s characters were, though.”

ATOM armor

Forry Ackerman Inaction Figure

Forrest J Ackerman, the Dark Horse Comics statuette

Forrest J Ackerman, the Dark Horse Comics statuette

Beethoven probably never got his own action figure either… Not that Forry moves, just the same, Dark Horse Comics’ Forry Ackerman statuette is an instant front-runner for next year’s Rondo Awards in the Best Toy, Model or Collectible category —

Forrest J Ackerman, commonly known to fans as “Forry”, comes to life in this colorful 13″ tall statue. Forry was the creator, editor and principal writer for Famous Monsters of Filmland, a magazine that influenced generations while spreading the love of the horror genre he was also known for his “Ackermansion,” a sprawling house in Los Angeles that held his extensive horror book and memorabilia collection. For fifty years, Forry shared his collection with fans during open-house events. As an agent, writer, editor, and actor, he had far-reaching influence in the science fiction, horror, and fantasy community. The statue includes a nameplate on the base with one of Forry’s most popular nicknames, “Dr. Acula.”

And think how cool it would be if LASFS bought a batch of these to give its Forry Award winners (instead of the nothing they get now.)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Four Grand for “5 Cons”

Chris Garcia’s and Linda Wenzelburger’s Indiegogo appeal to fund 5 Cons – A Fandom Documentary Series cracked the $4,000 level today.

Fans flocked to get their names in the credits by making incentive donations. Chris now has three assistant producers ($500) and 20 associate producers ($100). He should never lack someone to send for a six-pack of Pibb Extra.

Already well past the initial $3,500 target, the donations keep on coming. The Indiegogo campaign ends Thursday.

5 Cons will present the world of sf fandom through the lens of five conventions in the US and Great Britain — the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition, ConQuest in Kansas City (where Chris will be a Guest of Honor), Westercon 66, LoneStarCon 3 (the Worldcon, in San Antonio) and the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton.

 [Thanks to James Bacon for the story.]

Gerhartsreiter Trial Update 3/26

The prosecution covered the Sohus missing persons investigation during the Gerhartsreiter trial on Friday, March 22.

A former San Marino police officer told jurors about taking a missing persons report on the couple in April 1985. But after a lengthy sidebar the judge did not permit him to be questioned about certain statements made by Didi Sohus, mother of murder victim John Sohus. In a preliminary hearing last year, the officer said Didi told him she was in contact with her son and daughter-in-law through a secret source, a source who told her not to worry, that John and Linda were on a “top secret” mission and would eventually get in contact with her.

Another San Marino detective contacted Gerhartsreiter as part of the 1985 investigation:

“He was nude. He just came to the door naked,” Yankovich testified. “I asked him to put some clothes on. He said, ‘No, I’m a nudist.’ “

A second missing persons report was taken from Didi Sohus in July 1985 by former San Marino police officer Lili Hadsell after Gerhartsreiter disappeared.

“She was a little agitated,” Hadsell recalled of John’s mother. “She was upset. She came out onto the porch. We talked a little bit. She seemed more agitated and upset than I’d seen her before. “

Detective Yankovich reopened the case in 1988 and learned that a Nissan pickup truck registered to John and Linda was in the possession of a Connecticut couple. He asked a Greenwich detective to follow up on the lead, but never caught up with Gerhartsreiter.

Didi Sohus’ grandson, Harry Sherwood IV, an Army major, and the sole heir to her estate, also testified. He visited the house in November 1985 and said it appeared as if Linda, an artist known as Cody, had left her supplies and completed paintings behind in a bedroom she shared with her husband.

When court resumed on Monday, March 25, a friend of the couple’s, Susan Coffman recalled visiting them in 1983 and asking why they didn’t live in the guest house on the property:

“(Linda) said, ‘Oh, there’s a renter that lives there,'” Coffman recalled. “And, ‘we don’t talk to him because he’s kind of creepy.’ “

Gerhartsreiter was the renter.

Coffman described the Sohuses as “two contented puppies” who were “happy to be in each other’s presence.” Coffman was the maid of honor in the Sohuses’  Halloween 1983 wedding, which was at her house, she said.

Coffman last spoke to Linda in early February 1985. Linda told her John had gotten a job with the government and the couple would be going back East for a couple of weeks. Coffman later received a postcard marked “Paris, France” and signed “John and Linda” with the message, “Hi Sue – Kinda missed New York (oops) but this can be lived with – John + Linda ”

Defense attorneys challenged Coffman about her knowledge of the couple’s relationship. They argue that Linda may have killed her husband, noting that she has never been found.

Patrick Rayermann, a close childhood friend of John Sohus, also testified that he never saw the couple fight. “They seemed very much in love with each other,” Rayermann said.

Key testimony on Tuesday, March 26, came from two men who knew Gerhartsreiter – then going by the name “Christopher Chichester” – through the local Episcopal Church. One of them lent Gerhartsreiter his chainsaw around the time the couple disappeared. The other remembers Gerhartsreiter trying to sell him an Oriental rug, which his wife remarked had bloodstains on it.

“She said, ‘there’s spots,'” Brown recalled. “”There’s a blood spot on there.’ I don’t recall he said anything he just rolled the rug up.”

A neighbor also testified that she smelled burning rubber and saw dark smoke coming from the chimney of the guest house next door, and called to ask Gerhartsreiter what was going on.

“I’m burning carpet,” she said he told her. “I said, ‘You don’t burn carpet. You throw it away. Please stop! You’re reeking up the neighborhood.’ ”

She said that the smoke ended within 10 to 15 minutes of her call.

She estimated that she saw the smoke in the fall of 1984 or early spring of 1985. The Sohuses were last seen in February 1985.

Links to local reports:

Pasadena Star-News: Murder suspect told San Marino cop he was a nudist, refused to put on clothes

Pasadena Star-News: How much dirty laundry will be aired? Accused killer’s ex-wife to testify

Pasadena Star-News: Missing woman, slain husband said murder suspect was ‘creepy’

LA Times: Couple’s relationship a focus in trial of Rockefeller impostor

Pasadena Star-News: Murder suspect borrowed chain saw about the time San Marino couple disappeared

LA Times: Accused killer tried to sell bloodstained rug, witnesses say

Fifth Trek Series on Blu-Ray

Season 1 of the fifth Star Trek TV series, Enterprise, came out on Blu-Ray today. The six-disc set holds 25 episodes plus an eight-part documentary, deleted scenes, and cast commentary.

The series’ Captain, actor Scott Bakula, promoted the release in an interview with TV Guide.

TV Guide Magazine: Enterprise was perhaps the most polarizing Star Trek spinoff. Some loved its pre-Kirk early space exploration appeal but other Trekkers complained it wasn’t really Star Trek, because it was before Starfleet and the exploration of lots of alien planets.
Scott Bakula
: [Laughs] It always cracks me up. It reminds me of a letter we got on Quantum Leap from someone who seriously told us, “You’re breaking all the rules of time travel.” The rules were mostly the one set up by Mr. Spielberg in Back to the Future. In a funny way, I think our show, as time goes by, is going to resonate and we’re going to enjoy it more. I hear it all the time. “I didn’t give it a chance when it came out. I’m watching it now and I love it.”

I was intrigued to see “the rules of time travel” attributed to anyone as recent as Steven Spielberg. Do the actors in AI think he invented the laws of robotics, too?

The idea that the future has a preordained character which may be altered or directed by human actions can be found everywhere from Charles Dickens to the Old Testament. The notion that the past and future are places a person might leave the present to visit, and affect events there, frames several 19th Century stories.

Time travel became truly “science fictional” when H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine gave it the trappings of transportation technology. And in sf’s Golden Age authors added a rigorous assessment of the consequences of a traveler’s actions.