Hartwell SF Symposium at Williams

The public is invited to The David G. Hartwell ’63 Science Fiction Symposium at Williams College on October 22-24. Hartwell will participate in this event at his alma mater along with Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Elizabeth Kolbert, David Hartwell, Paolo Bacigalupi, William Gibson, Terry Bisson, and John Crowley.

A Science Fiction Reading will open the Symposium on Tuesday, October 22 in Griffin 3 at 4:00 p.m.  A Panel Discussion on Climate Change and Science Fiction will follow in Paresky Auditorium on October 23 at 7:30 p.m. The event will culminate with a Final Science Fiction Reading on Thursday, October 24 in Griffin 3 at 4:00 p.m.

The Symposium is sponsored by the Williams College English Department, The Margaret Bundy Scott Fund, American Studies, Environmental Studies, Africana Studies and the Oakley Center.  All three events are free and open to the public. The campus address is 844 Main St, Williamstown, MA 01267.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

Hertz on DUFF: Wright at Home

By John Hertz: Bill Wright the 2013 Down Under Fan Fund delegate has arrived safely home at St. Kilda West, Victoria, Australia, after visiting San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Antonio, New Orleans, Seattle, Minneapolis & St. Paul, and Boston. Many thanks to his hosts and helpers.

Aptly St. Kilda is also home to Luna Park, entered through the grinning face of the Moon, with the oldest continuously operated roller-coaster in the world, and one of the few carousels outside the U.S. built by the fine Philadelphia Toboggan Co. This may have prepared him.

Bill duly attended the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, saw both the LASFS (Los Angeles S-F Soc.) and NESFA (New England S-F Ass’n) clubhouses, and was treated, if not royally since USans don’t do that, enthusiastically and well. Alas, a stop in Canada could not be managed, but luckily there were Canadians at the Worldcon, not least long-time DUFF activist Murray Moore.

Jacq Monahan the North America TAFF Administrator and I contrived to get 2013 TAFF delegate Jim Mowatt on the Wright path several times. Ecumenical, we are.

Various reports of Wright view, Wright aspiration, Wright speech, Wright action, Wright livelihood, Wright effort, Wright mindfulness, Wright concentration have been appearing in Electronicland.

He is now the Australia – New Zealand DUFF Administrator, succeeding Dave Cake. Whether or not this shift from Perth to Melbourne rocks the continent, Bill may be reached electronically at <bilw@iprimus.com.au> (or, if he happens to be traveling, <bilwmahail@gmail.com>); or write to me, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057, U.S.A., for his real-mail address.

In 2013 both funds sent delegates to, and in 2014 both will send delegates from, North America. While TAFFy people think of London, where a delegate will attend the 72nd Worldcon (remind me or Bridget Bradshaw to tell you about the Great Trans-Atlantic Toffee Tasting), my mind is running to Down Under national conventions.

The 53rd Australia natcon will be Continuum X, 6-9 June, Melbourne. The 35th New Zealand natcon will be Conclave II, 24-27 April, Auckland. Will there be candidates for both? In any event, Bill and I plan to open nominations on November 1st. We’re looking for a few good fen.

Gary Brandner (1933-2013)

Gary Brandner

Gary Brandner

Howling author Gary Brandner, who published more than 30 novels and over 100 short stories, died September 23 of cancer of the esophagus

The Howling, the first novel in his werewolf-themed trilogy, was adapted as motion picture in 1981. Directed by Joe Dante, it launched a multi-film horror franchise.

Brandner worked on the screenplay for the second film in the series, a maddening but profitable experience as he revealed in a 2010 interview with Dr. Gore’s Funhouse —

Were you involved at all during the early stage of production for the movie adaptation of The Howling and were the earlier drafts closer to the tone and structure of your novel?

Nope. I sold the rights for an exorbitant sum and the next thing I knew I was at the screening.

How do you feel about Joe Dante’s 1981 movie and were you disappointed that it shared little relation to your story?

Joe Dante, despite our personal differences, made a fine movie, although I might have liked to see more of my book in it. However, it has been an annuity for me, so who’s complaining.

Why did you agree to co-write the screenplay for Howling II and how come you decided not to adapt your novel of the same name?

A longish story, which I’ll abridge mercilessly. I agreed for the same reason professional writers agree to anything – money. And, sure, there was a pride of authorship involved. My first draft was lovingly true to the book. At the original story meeting: ‘Gary, this is great, but the producer would like a part for his friend Fernando Rey.’ I dutifully went home and wrote in the veteran actor. Next meeting: ‘Wonderful, Gary, but the money is coming from Spaniards, and they’d like the story to take place in Spain. And, oh yes, Fernando Rey is out.’ Okay, I bundled up my plot and my people and moved everything to Spain. Next meeting: ‘Perfect, Gary, but the Spanish money dropped out and we’re shooting on the cheap in Yugoslavia.’ Here I had to bail out since I had a book contract with a deadline approaching. They hired another writer who is responsible for what you see on the screen. I retained co-screenwriter credits which brings in a few dollars twice a year.

In years past Brandner participated in the local Vintage Paperback Show.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Ray Bradbury Library Dedicated

Plaque outside the library entrance.

Plaque outside the library entrance.

By John King Tarpinian: Today, September 23, the City of Los Angeles dedicated the Palms-Rancho Park library to Ray Bradbury. This is a newly remodeled and upgraded library, however, the original library was the one closest to the Bradbury household. Ray would take his four daughters on adventures to this library. Three of the four daughters were in attendance for the ceremony (the fourth was a little under the weather.)

Steven Paul Leiva spearheaded the dedication. Steve was responsible for most of Ray Bradbury Week in the City of Los Angeles which celebrated Ray’s 90th birthday, and for getting Ray Bradbury Square dedicated to Ray out front of the Main Los Angeles Library.

City Council members spoke on how Ray was a son of the city, even having only been a resident for 76 of his 91 years. Ray’s daughter, Susan Bradbury Nixon, read her tribute to her dad.

Harlan Ellison was there and noticed a gaggle of high school students sitting on the floor beside the podium. He went over to talk to them and had a little innocent fun with their teacher, to the students’ delight.

After the tributes and speeches were made by officials of the city and the head librarian, Maggie Johnson, everybody moved outside for the unveiling of the dedication plaque.

This was followed by a discussion panel about Ray in the Ray Bradbury auditorium which was dedicated years ago. Due to silly fire marshal rules only the first 80 people could attend.

Steven Paul Leiva, the moderator, was joined by Harlan Ellison and George Clayton Johnson. Steve has only known Ray for about thirty years while Harlan and George have know Ray for more than half a century.

Harlan began his tribute by saying that even with their different personalities they bonded almost immediately upon meeting. The “ah-ha” moment being when Harlan and Ray were having dinner with Leigh Brackett and her husband, Edmond Hamilton. Ray leaned over to Harlan and proclaimed that they were brothers and that across the table were their parents. That was quite the metaphor. I’ve spoken of Harlan with Ray over the years and the love was not made up, it was real.

The normally loquacious George Clayton Johnson was relatively subdued. He talked about his collaboration with Ray on the short-subject film based on Ray’s story “Icarus-Montgolfier-Wright.” George was so humble he did not bother to mention that the film, voiced by Ross Martin and illustrated by Joseph Mugnaini, was nominated for an Academy Award. It did not win but is part of the Motion Picture Academy’s permanent collection.

You will notice a copy of Ray’s first book, Dark Carnival, sitting in front of Harlan. That is Harlan’s personal copy, given to him by August Derleth. Ray did sign it for Harlan and he wrote something to the effect of, “My first best seller. Sold 5 copies per week.”

Michelle Pincus of LASFS.

Michelle Pincus of LASFS.

A few fans and a few fiends of Ray’s were in attendance that chose to speak. Among them Michelle Pincus. She was there representing LASFS, the world’s oldest sci-fi club. Ray joined at the tender age of 17 when it met at Clifton’s Cafeteria, but the meetings moved around over the years and, in fact, in 1970 LASFS met for awhile in a building at the Palms Park right next to this library.

Marc Scott Zicree spoke of having seen Ray talk for the first time at this original library when he was only 13. Ray’s talk was one of the reasons he became a writer.

Those three hours went by all too fast. It is sad that a few of us have only gotten together for tributes like this for Ray. We loved the man that played such a great part in so many of our lives. Even before we met him in person we knew him from his wonderful stories. Those stories will live on forever.

One last thing, this October will mark 60 years since the publication of Fahrenheit 451.

Susan Nixon Bradbury

Susan Bradbury Nixon

Steven Paul Leiva.

Steven Paul Leiva.


Teacher with Harlan Ellison

Teacher with Harlan Ellison


Steven Paul Leiva, Harlan Ellison and George Clayton Johnson

Steven Paul Leiva, Harlan Ellison and George Clayton Johnson



Selected Short Subjects

Tyrion Lannister witComing this Christmas, The Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister showcases the cynical humor of George R.R. Martin’s favorite character, the worldly, jaded, funny, highly intelligent, womanizing star of the books.

I suspect that even when Martin was reading Excerpts from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long years ago he never dreamed his own work would become so popular that, like Heinlein, he could repackage the highlights and get people to pay for them a second time!

[Via SF Signal.]

Snapshots 121 Holes in a Chinese Checkers Board

Here are 7 developments of interest to fans.

(1) NASA is looking for participants to lie in bed for 70 days at its Flight Analogs Research Unit to help researchers understand the effectiveness of exercise on loss of muscle, bone and cardiovascular function. Subjects will only get out of bed to do specified exercises.

While in bed, you can read, watch TV and even use the internet. However, the catch is that you can’t stand up to stretch your muscles — not even to go to the bathroom. NASA developed a special gurney for that while you’re lying down.

By using a machine called the Horizontal Exercise Fixture, participants will help NASA understand if that same exercise program will be useful for astronauts in the future.

I’m waiting for the sit-70-days-in-front-of-a-computer study. Of course, I expect there will be a lot of competition from the rest of you to get into that study.

(2) Digitized libraries of old books and newspapers make it possible do extraordinary research from home. Awhile ago I wrote about the author who had unseated the Wright Brothers as the first to fly. Another author has been hard at work to fathom the hidden ancestry of baseball. But there are certain things to keep in mind when using a computer to search PDFs.

Eighteenth-century Britons sometimes used the long s, which OCR tends to read as an f. So you might only find baseball by searching the word bafeball. It was a real pain in the afs.

Also —

In the “B” section, after base-born (“born out of wedlock”) and base-minded (“mean spirited”), Block found an entry for baseball. It was defined as, “A rural game in which the person striking the ball must run to his base or goal.” The first dictionary definition of baseball.

I saw that and privately complained, isn’t this just as much a description of cricket? But I relented when the author trotted out this 1799 quote from Jane Austen’s cousin —

“Ah!” says he, “no more cricket, no more base-ball, they are sending me to Geneva.”

The cousin obviously knew base-ball was a game unto itself.

(3) The original Delorean auto company went broke in 1982 after producing only 9,000 of the famous cars with the gull-wing doors. A Southern California entrepreneur revived the brand name in the 1990s for his business of remanufacturing Deloreans from an inventory of parts he bought from an Ohio company. One of the company’s sidelines is making copies of Dr. Emmett Brown’s time-traveling car from Back To The Future. They’ve made 6 so far.

The pseudo time machines are outfitted with a gaggle of “time circuits” allowing users to happily punch in a “destination time,” just like Fox, or McFly, did in the movie, as well as a lever that activates the all-important mock “flux capacitor,” which, if not capable of generating an actual 1.21 gigawatts of electricity, does, in fact, glow with flashing lights.

…The refitted DeLoreans cost about $45,000, and utilize a whole range of motley parts – like a military surplus jet engine cooler – as well as a Krups coffee grinder that subs as the machine’s “nuclear reactor.”

(4) H.P. Lovecraft as a hard science author? The Lovecraftian Science blog exists to make the argument —

At the convention, I gave a talk on the biology of some of the Old Ones and I received some positive input from the participates. I would like to continue to investigate Lovecraftian Science as a whole (biology, astronomy, chemistry, etc.) and I thought doing it through a blog would be the best means.

I will be talking about Lovecraft’s love for science, how he incorporated a wide variety of scientific theories into his fiction and pose questions on how science would operate in Lovecraft’s world. Based on existing text and essays, I will also identify how Lovecraft was a strong advocate and defender of science. Finally, I will also compare Lovecraft’s attribute toward science to more contemporary scientists and writers.

(5) If you’re interested in football I recommend this 2007 Los Angeles Magazine profile of Coach Pete Carroll. If not, humorous writing may still be worth your time —

On two separate occasions, though I aim the tape recorder at Carroll’s mouth, I later discover nothing on the tape but sibilant mumbles. I hear his voice, then a rustling, then silence, then garble garble—it’s spooky. The tape recorder is brand-new. It was the most expensive one they had at Radio Shack. It picks up my voice fine. When Carroll speaks, the recording sounds like an articulate man gagged and locked in the trunk of a car.

(6) Here’s a link to the Planetary Society’s diagram showing the status of dozens of NASA space probes carrying out missions in the Solar System.

(7) James H. Burns sends a link to a YouTube rarity.

In a clip that was rare and new, to me, at least, Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster suddenly pops up at a 1965 beach, a ‘typical’ mid-60s Shin-Dig scene. The description at Youtube says this was shot on location for a Murray the K TV special, and gets even odder, when it morphs into a Public Service Announcement of sorts!   (And, for the uninitiated, and those too young (!), Murray the K was a top DJ of the era). The first half, anyway, I think, is good fun (and it totals about five minutes).

[Thanks for these stories goes out to Andrew Porter, James Hay, John King Tarpinian, David Klaus, James H. Burns and The Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol.]

Status of LSC3 Hugo/Masquerade Videos

The Hugo Awards available at no charge via Ustream is a copy “corrected” and uploaded on September 10. Syd Weinstein reports that since then he has “performed a few more edits to clean it up a bit more.” That version can be ordered from the http://www.sydweinstein.net/DVDs.htm site. He adds:

The video was recorded in NTSC at 720p High Definition.  The Blu-Ray is recorded at this resolution.  The DVD, of course, is a down convert to Standard Definition NTSC television.

I will now start production work on the Masquerade.  This will take a bit longer as there is a large amount of work to add the still photographs and the full costuming credits to the production.

Weinstein asks for patience while he finishes this work, reminding fans he is a volunteer who does all this editing and disc production outside of normal business hours.

Sing Theory

Tim Blais, physics student, a capella singer and Queen fan, has created a music video based on “Bohemian Rhapsody” about science’s search for a Unified Theory of Everything.

The matching of music to matter is inspired. Freddie Mercury intended “Bohemian Rhapsody” to be a “mock opera,” and critic Judith Peraino agrees that it follows a “certain operatic logic: choruses of multi-tracked voices alternate with aria-like solos, the emotions are excessive, the plot confusing.” Likewise, Blais’ 10-minute performance is  as complex and obscure as its inspiration.

The lyrics begin —

Is string theory right?
Is it just fantasy?
Caught in the landscape,
Out of touch with reality
On S5 or T*S3

Every lyric and vocal effect comes from the mouth of one of the multiple images of Blais onscreen, faithful in its way to how Queen produced the original

May, Mercury, and Taylor reportedly sang their vocal parts continually for ten to twelve hours a day. The entire piece took three weeks to record, and in some sections featured 180 separate overdubs. Since the studios of the time only offered 24-track analogue tape, it was necessary for the three to overdub themselves many times and “bounce” these down to successive sub-mixes. In the end, eighth-generation tapes were used. The various sections of tape containing the desired submixes had to be spliced (cut with razor blades and assembled in the correct sequence using adhesive tape).

Though aided by technology Blais’ project must have been a Herculean effort. But with Queen’s original as his roadmap he knew it could be done. And as Dr. Robert Forward said, “Once you’ve proven it’s possible, the rest is just engineering.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Delphyne Joan Hanke-Woods (1945-2013)

Joan Hanke-Woods. Copyright © 2013 Andrew I. Porter; all rights reserved.

Joan Hanke-Woods. Copyright © 2013 Andrew I. Porter; all rights reserved.

Award-winning artist Joan Hanke-Woods, also known as Delphyne Woods, died of unknown causes in early September reports SF Site News. She was 67.

“In 1949 my paternal grandfather taught me to read using his son’s science fiction pulp magazines stored in the attic of the family bungalow in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood,” she said in her artist’s bio for Chicon 7.

She discovered sf fandom at Windycon in 1978 and soon became one of the leading fanartists, sending portfolios of her photocopied work to several editors at a time. File 770 ran quite a few of her full-page illustrations as covers. She created the centerpiece/centerfold and other art for Bill Bowers’ live performance Outworlds 50 in 1987.

Hanke-Woods won the Fanzine Activity Achievement Awards (FAAns) Best Serious Artist category in 1979 and 1980. After being nominated six times for the Best Fan Artist Hugo, she finally won in 1986, her last year on the ballot. Then she gafiated. But just recently she became active in fandom again.

While providing art for fanzines, she was also making sales to prozines and book publishers. Her art appeared in Galaxy, Fantastic Films, and The Comics Journal and in books by R.A. Lafferty and Joan D. Vinge.

She was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1984 WindyCon in Chicago.

delphyne woods. From Chicon 7 website.

Delphyne Woods. From Chicon 7 website.

 [Thanks to Steven H Silver and Andrew Porter for the story.]