Star Wars: My Force Awakens

Steve Vertlieb and Daisy Ridley

By Steve Vertlieb: Among the many highlights of my recent pilgrimage to Hollywood was an entirely unexpected, nearly miraculous, accidental “close encounter” with the current star of one of the most lucrative and beloved movie franchises in motion picture history. I’m still amazed, weeks after this most astonishing occurrence, that our meeting actually occurred, as these remarkable photographs will happily attest.

While waiting backstage to speak with composer John Williams at the venerable Hollywood Bowl, I noticed that Daisy Ridley’s name was posted on one of the dressing room doors. She hadn’t appeared on stage with Maestro Williams during the Star Wars concert selections, and so I wondered why. I turned to my brother to mention the strangeness of the occurrence when I inwardly gasped at the realization that the young star of both Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi was standing just inches in front of me. Hearing her British accent in conversation with the director of the latest sci-fi epic, I nudged my brother Erwin, and whispered “I think that Daisy Ridley is standing right in front of me.” Hearing my admittedly excited observation to my little brother, she turned toward me with a big smile and said hello. She was as delightfully adorable in person as she is as “Rey” on the big screen in the spectacular continuation of the cherished science fiction franchise. I couldn’t help but recall John Williams’ own wonderfully charming admission, upon receiving his A.F.I. Life Achievement Award last year, that he didn’t want any other composer but himself writing music for this lovely young actress. I completely understood his feelings upon meeting Miss Ridley.

Take Two: Steve Vertlieb and Daisy Ridley

Adam West Day in Walla Walla

Batman (Clint Young) greets young visitors at the Adam West Day opening ceremonies.

By Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag: A much needed but ill-timed rainstorm didn’t dampen spirits at the opening ceremonies of Adam West Day in Walla Walla on Tuesday, September 19, 2017.

This first Adam West Day started at 11 a.m. at a small plaza in downtown Walla Walla. Event organizer Jonathan Grant introduced Walla Walla Mayor Allen Pomraning. The Mayor then invited members of Adam West’s family in front of the sizable crowd and introduced them.

Mayor Allen Pomraning opened the celebration by reading the official city council proclamation declaring September 19 to be Adam West Day in the city – in 2017 and in the future. Organizer Jonathan Grant confirmed plans to hold this event annually.

West’s youngest son, Perrin, and West’s widow Marcelle cut a ribbon to open the festivities. Pomraning then presented them with a key to the city. The family opened a present from the city – a street sign that will be placed at the corner of Alvarado Terrace and Clinton Street declaring the area where Adam’s childhood home is located to be “Honorable Adam West Way”.

Event Organizer Jonathan Grant introduces Walla Walla Mayor Allen Pomraning at the opening ceremonies of the first Adam West Day in Walla Walla Washington.

The family of Adam West listen as Walla Walla Mayor Allen Pomraning reads the official declaration of Adam West Day.

Perrin Anderson, Adam West’s son and Marcelle West, Adam West’s widow, cut a ribbon to open the Adam West Day festivities in Walla Walla.

Marcelle West holds the Key to the City given to her by Walla Walla’s mayor.

The family of Adam West look on at the new street sign that will declare the street Adam West grew up on to be “Honorary Adam West Way”.

As a classic Batman (Clint Young) arrived to have photos taken with visitors and to meet with a group of pre-school children attending the event, the rain increased and many of the crowd sought shelter in nearby shops. Batman retreated under an awning and continued to greet the enthusiastic children and their equally enthusiastic parents and other adults. Due to the rain, the Batmobile did not make an appearance at the opening ceremony.

Many downtown Walla Walla businesses had Batman stickers in the windows in support of Adam West Day.

About an hour later crowds gathered in the ballroom of the Marcus Whitman Hotel to hear a conversation with Ruben Procopio, an artist who has worked on many Batman ’66 projects and drew the image of Adam West on all the promotional materials for the day. The event was well-attended, and the hotel provided bat-shaped cookies, which were quickly eaten by guests.

The hotel provided Bat-cookies for those attending Adam West Day ceremonies.

The Batmobile was available for pictures, and some fans were even allowed to sit in the car for photos.

Procopio started by saying he had come to pay his respects to Adam West, a lifelong inspiration. “Happy birthday, Adam, wherever you are!”

Procopio talked about coming to the United States at the age of five and immediately loving Adam West’s Batman. “I thought of it as real, and didn’t understand the camp so much until later,” he said. “Then I admired it for how well he pulled it off. The character meant so much to me throughout my whole life.”

He said he first met West in 1980 as a young fan, and became good friends with him. The two saw each other frequently at events, and Procopio eventually created a small sculpture of West that was sold in extremely limited quantities. He showed images of Adam West examining the prototypes during the approval process.

The ballroom at the Marcus Whitman Hotel was nicely crowded for a talk by Ruben Procopio about his career and how he was influenced by Adam West.

A conceptual drawing of a proposed Adam West statue is unveiled for the crowd by Ruben Procopio. If approved by the Walla Walla city council, the statue would be privately funded and placed in Menlo Park in Walla Walla.

Procopio said he’d been working on the animated Batman ’66 movies when West passed away. Two of them are finished, with Return of the Caped Crusaders already released and Batman vs Two-Face coming out later this year. William Shatner is the voice of Two-Face.

“I had envisioned Adam and William Shatner on a panel to promote the release of the film together,” Procopio said. “It would have been wonderful.” He said Burt Ward and Shatner will probably do the introduction at New York Comic Con.

Event organizer Jonathan Grant helped Procopio unveil the concept art for a statue of Adam West that they hope to privately fund and place in Menlo Park in Walla Walla. Grant is also petitioning the city to change the name of the park to Adam West Park. Grant said the next presentation will be October 3 and that he planned to “do what it takes as long as it takes” to get the statue up and the park renamed.

The city’s banners celebrated Adam West Day, complete with art by Ruben Procopio.

Ruben Procopio did the drawing of Adam West gracing the promotional material for Adam West Day. Fan Don Lien got an autograph for a unique piece of memorabilia of the event.

In addition to the speech, there were door prizes given away via drawings of bats taped to the underside of chairs. The prizes included mugs and art prints.

After the speech, the Batmobile was made available for photos in front of the hotel. The rain also let up and by 4 p.m. the sun was shining brightly on the city.

Children posed with Batman in front of the Batmobile in the afternoon, after the rain finally let up.

Batman fan Don Lien drove in from Pendleton to celebrate Batman, wearing his Batman belt buckle and a Batman t-shirt.

Huntress, another member of the Bat-family, showed up to provide support at Adam West Day.

From 3 p.m. until about 6 p.m. the Batmobile was at the plaza where the opening ceremonies took place. In addition to live music, Batman stickers were given to everyone and children got extra stickers and Batman masks. A face-painter gave many children Batman designs. Local businesses were overflowing.

The Batmobile arrives at the Gesa Power House Theatre.

The Gesa Power House Theatre was an actual power house until about ten years ago, when it was converted into a theatre. Adam West fans lined up for the free screening of “Starring Adam West”.

A crowd formed at the Gesa Power House Theatre at 7 p.m. for the free movie Starring Adam West, a documentary about how West got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With members of Adam’s family in attendance cheering at their own and other family members’ appearances mixed with loud cheers from the local audience every time Walla Walla was mentioned, the screening was intensely emotional.

After the screening, Producer Ralph Garman and Director James Tooley spoke about the process of making the film and answered questions from the audience. Tooley said this was the first screening of the movie he’s been to without Adam in the audience with him, and the reactions were the most amazing and yet so bittersweet.

Garman, who pushed hard for the star on the Walk of Fame, talked about his relationship with West. He was asked to do his impression of West, and started with a “Sometimes you can’t get rid of a bomb” that sounded very little like West, followed up immediately with a spot-on impression of Adam West saying “That sounds nothing like me.” The audience enjoyed it, along with other impressions Garman later dropped into the discussion.

Garman said that West, who had multiple failed attempts at getting a star before he finally got one, cared deeply about it although he claimed repeatedly that he didn’t care. “It was a gift to him, and to his fans, that will last.”

Producer Ralph Garman and Director James Tooley answer questions about “Starring Adam West” after the screening of the movie.

Garman talked about how Adam West took the title of “Bright Knight” instead of the Dark Knight. He was proud of having inspired people, and told the audience about all the policemen and firefighters who approached him to say that Batman helped them choose their careers. He also recommended people look for “An Evening With Adam West” podcast online, because there is nothing quite like hearing West tell his story in his own words.

In 2004, Adam West starred in a movie called Monster Island. Unfortunately, a short piece of dialogue didn’t record right, and the director asked West to rerecord it. Because it was such a short bit of dialogue, West recorded it at home and sent it to the director. Garman and Tooley mentioned it to point out West’s professionalism. Instead of just recording it one way, he made a minute-long recording of him saying it in every way he could possibly think of saying it. You can find the recording on YouTube (https://youtu.be/pa6TCgS6GL4) and hear Adam West telling folks to “Come on, let’s go!”

At the end of the conversation, a local woman told her story of meeting Adam West during San Diego Comic Con many years ago. She said she bought a photo of him then looked all over the hotel, trying to find him. She finally spotted him in a crowd of people signing autographs as he headed toward an elevator. She realized there was no way she would get to him in time, so she shouted to him, “Walla Walla still loves you!” He looked up at her, then the crowds parted to let her in, and he invited her onto the elevator with his entourage. As he signed her photo, she told him how proud his hometown was of him, and said he was delighted.

Now after dark, the group of fans headed back to the Marcus Whitman Hotel for the lighting of the Bat Signal. Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber said a few words about Batman, apologizing on behalf of Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara, who were unable to attend. Then he put his hand to his ear and said, “Oh no, we have a crime in Walla Walla!” Mayor Pomraning, who had been standing nearby, rushed up at the Chief’s call, and the two of them decided to “light the bat light!” and turned to the crowd to ask for a countdown from ten. Just after “one!” was shouted by many voices, the Bat Signal appeared on the side of the hotel.

Walla Walla Police Chief Scott Bieber tells the mayor that the city is in danger and needs help from Batman.

The Bat Signal shines over Walla Walla in memory of Adam West.

The crowd was then invited to an after-party at Sapolil Cellars, just down the street, featuring the promise of good Walla Walla wine and the Batusi. Ye ol’ reporter needed to head home — a two-hour drive — and so missed the party.

My own impressions of the day: Wow. Walla Walla has the best downtown, and everyone was welcoming and excited to be part of celebrating Adam West’s life. Most stores had a Batman sticker in the window. The town is filled with historic buildings, including the Marcus Whitman Hotel, which is gorgeous inside and out. The Power House Theatre was literally a power house until it was converted into a theatre about 10 years ago, and it’s a unique experience to see a film there.

The door prizes at the ballroom were fun — I got one, but gave it up to another fan who I realized would treasure it way more than I could. Both myself and my traveling companion for the day didn’t expect to enjoy the movie as much as we did. In short, it was a fantastic day, and I hope to attend the event again in the future.

Half the people in town on Tuesday were wearing some sort of Batman symbol, including this couple resting in the Marcus Whitman Hotel.

A display case at the Marcus Whitman Hotel showed off Batman and Adam West memorabilia, including a bust of Adam West sculpted by Ruben Procopio, who spoke at the event.

Shakespeare’s bust faithfully hides the secret of Batman’s lair.

The Marcus Whitman Hotel decorated its lobby with a number of photos of Adam West in many different roles, including many tributes to his version of Batman.

Photo opportunities abounded in the hotel.

Remembering Shirley Maiewski

By Carl Slaughter: Shirley Maiewski (1920-2004) was known as “Grandma Trek.”

She served as chairman of the Star Trek Welcome Committee, acting as a liaison between the corporate world and the fan community.  She kept the franchise flame alive between cancellation of the show and the start of the movie series.

Maiewski also wrote one of the most popular fan fic stories, “Mindsifter.”  It appeared in Bantam’s Star Trek: The New Voyages (1976), edited by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, the second of the Star Trek anthologies commissioned by Frederik Pohl.

She didn’t write any more fan fiction for 2 reasons:  1) “Mindsifter” was revised without her knowledge or permission.  2) Reviewers deconstructed it.  She was so upset with Bantam, she called for a boycott.  Because of her status in the fan community, Bantam’s source of fan fic manuscripts dried up.

After 40 years, “Mindsifter” finally got a screen adaptation. It wasn’t New Voyages best episode and the print version is much better.

  • Star Trek:  New Voyages:

  • Director’s commentary:

Picking Stories for an Anthology: A Guest Post by Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier

By Joshua Palmatier: Mike Glyer asked me to write a post about some of the behind-the-scenes action at my small press Zombies Need Brains.  As some of you might know, ZNB holds an open call for a short window (usually from the time the Kickstarter funds to the end of December) where anyone can submit a short story that fits one of our themes and have it considered for possible inclusion in that anthology.  I thought I’d talk about how we handle these submissions and perhaps get into a little bit of what I look for in the stories as I read them.  But first, a quick introduction just in case some of you don’t know about this small press, along with a plug for our current Kickstarter.

ZNB is a small press founded by me, fantasy author Joshua Palmatier.  Every year, I run a Kickstarter to fund a set of themed anthologies.  So far I’ve managed to produce seven anthologies over the course of four years.  What I think makes ZNB unique is that we fill half of the anthologies with well-known SF&F writers, but the remaining slots are up for grabs with an open call for submissions.  So each anthology has New York Times bestselling authors alongside authors who’ve just made their first professional sale to ZNB.  [ZNB is recognized by SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) as a qualifying market.]

We’re excited about the themes and anchor authors we have up for grabs this year.  THE RAZOR’S EDGE is a military SF&F anthology where the stories will explore that fine line between being a rebel and becoming an insurgent.  We hope to see some great sci-fi—and yes, fantasy—from our anchor authors, including Gerald Brandt, William C. Dietz, D.B. Jackson, Chris Kennedy, Kay Kenyon, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Seanan McGuire, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., and Steve Perry.  In GUILDS & GLAIVES, authors will explore their sword & sorcery sides, with a dash of guilds for flavor; anchor authors include David B. Coe, James Enge, David Farland, Esther Friesner, Howard Andrew Jones, Gini Koch, Violette Malan, and Seanan McGuire.  And lastly, we have SECOND ROUND: A RETURN TO THE URBAR, which is a follow-up to a previously released anthology called AFTERHOURS: TALES FROM THE URBAR, published by DAW Books.  Here, Gilgamesh bartends a time-traveling bar where history mixes with a touch of magic.  Anchor authors include Jacey Bedford, Gini Koch, Juliet E. McKenna, C.E. Murphy, Kristine Smith, and Kari Sperring.

If any (or all) of these themes intrigue you, check out our Kickstarter!  Help us bring these three themes to life by backing our project!  You can find out further details about our past projects and the small press at www.zombiesneedbrains.com.

So, how does ZNB handle the “slush pile”—all of the stories that authors submit to the anthologies for consideration?  Well, the basics are simple and boring, yet essential:  I take the submissions, copy them to a folder on Dropbox, and then share them with the editors of that anthology.  I usually do this every day once the submission window opens until the last day, December 31st.  We get a lot of submissions, so if I didn’t do it every day, I’d end up spending an entire week at the end taking care of it.  As I move the submitted stories to the Dropbox, I record in an Excel file the title, author, date of submission, and word count.

Then it’s time to read.

I pretty much read stories non-stop from the moment the open call starts until February of the next year.  I read in the car (when I’m a passenger), during breaks at work, in the evenings, basically every chance I get.  With every story, I usually read the entire thing, then give the story a ranking from 1-5.  I record the ranking in the Excel file, then write a few words about the story so that later on I’ll remember it, and then a few words about what I thought worked or didn’t work in the story (essentially, the reasons behind my ranking).  Then I move on to the next story.

You’ll note that I said I usually read the entire story.  That’s true, but typically by the end of the first or second page I’ve already got a solid handle on a) how well the writer writes and b) where the story is going.  It’s surprising how quickly you can reach these conclusions.  HOWEVER, even if I’ve already decided that the story isn’t going to make the cut (at least for me; the other editor might disagree), I keep reading.  I do this because there are rare instances where the story either went in a direction I hadn’t foreseen OR the story simply had a bad start and there really is a good story in there, it just starts on page 7.  I’ve had both of these happen in the past, so I keep reading.

This policy may not continue, however.  ZNB has been receiving more and more submissions with each new set of anthologies.  We’re going to reach a point where we have too many submissions for me to get through them all by the end of February.  If this happens, I may have to forego reading every story all the way to the end.  I don’t want to do this, but if we don’t get our stories picked by the end of February, we’ll fall behind in the production process and then the anthology won’t be delivered in August, as promised.  So … make the beginning of your story strong!

At this point, you’re probably wondering what makes certain stories stand out over others.  The answer is:  a complete story with a cool idea that’s on theme and involves characters I care about.  It sounds like a simple statement, but there’s a lot going on in that one sentence.  Let’s break it down:

First, the idea must be on theme.  This is the number one reason for story rejections.  For example, the slush pile for TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER had many stories where the word “time” or “time travel” was mentioned on page 8 out of 10 and was never mentioned again.  The theme was everyday objects that were somehow acting temporally out of order.  These stories had no object acting out of order, they just randomly mentioned time somewhere and were about something else entirely.  This is an automatic 1 ranking:  it’s not on theme.

But having an idea on theme isn’t quite enough either.  It has to be a COOL idea that’s on theme.  For example, SUBMERGED was an underwater themed anthology.  I expected, and got, tons of stories about Atlantis, mermaids, sirens, etc., because when you say underwater SF&F, those are the ideas that leap first to mind, right?  It’s possible to write a cool story with those topics and be on theme, but we aren’t going to choose 5 stories about Atlantis.  We want the anthology to have some variety.  It’s better to try to come up with something ELSE that’s cool and different.  A suggestion is to sit down and start writing out ideas that fit the theme in a notebook, numbering them from 1 to, say, 24.  The first 10 are probably doing to be standard tropes about that theme, which means we’ll likely see many, many stories like that.  The ideas from 15 on are probably going to be far-fetched—you’re reaching at that point and the ideas just become crazier and crazier.  Too crazy to make sense, actually.  But those in the 10-15 range … those might be just outside the box enough to be cool and interesting, while still not so far out that they’re entering crazy territory.

But having a cool idea that’s on theme isn’t enough.  I see many stories where I find the idea interesting … but then the story goes nowhere.  It’s just an idea.  You need to build up a story AROUND that idea.  Story is probably the second biggest reason a submission is rejected.  So ask yourself, once you have this idea, what you can do with it.  What are the consequences of the idea?  What are its ramifications?  How can the idea go wrong?  What can you do with that idea that will bring in some kind of conflict?  Having a cell phone that can call the past is interesting, but how can that bring up conflict?  That conflict is the story.

And lastly, connected to the conflict, there needs to be a character that we care about.  I’ve read tons of stories where I thought the idea was cool, there was a story, but as I was reading I found I just didn’t care whether the character lived or died, found the lost city, or talked to their dead relative.  The character needs to be interesting as well.  (Notice it didn’t necessarily say they had to be likeable; I’m perfectly willing to read a story about a character I hate if he/she gets his/her comeuppance.)  The character, along with the conflict, add the human element to the story that’s so essential for it to work as a whole.

OK, so I read and rank the stories.  The other editor is doing the same thing.  Once we’ve both read the stories, we get together with our rankings in hand and talk about our top 20 picks.  Most of the time, there are a few stories we both agree are great.  Those usually get automatically put into the anthology.  The rest … well, we sit and argue about them.  We each explain what we liked and didn’t like about them.  We also compare them to the stories we’ve already accepted and the anchor author stories.  As I said, we want variety, so if you wrote something similar to an anchor author, well, the anchor author is already guaranteed a spot.  We also compare tones—no one wants to read an anthology with all dark, depressing stories.  If yours is the only humorous story in our top 20s, you’ll likely get in.  In the end, usually over the course of a couple of days, the arguments resolve all but the last slot or so.  This is when it becomes really tough, because the stories left to consider are usually all on an equal standing.  A decision has to be made though, whether it’s me being “publisher” and saying this is the story we’re taking OR, if the stories truly are equal, deciding to take both (or neither).

After that, decisions made, I have the happy job of sending out acceptance emails to those we decided to keep, and the horrible job of sending out the rejections.

So that’s how ZNB chooses their stories from the slush pile and also a little about what I look for when I’m reading.  I hope it was at least mildly interesting.  And once again, we can’t produce these anthologies without backers for our Kickstarter, so check out our current set of anthologies at tinyurl.com/insurgenturbar and help bring a new batch to life!


Guilds & Glaives, Insurgency, and Ur-Bar Anthologies!

The Razor’s Edge cover by Justin Adams of Varia Studios


The Razor’s Edge: One man’s insurgent is another man’s freedom fighter…
From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress to The Hunger Games, everyone enjoys a good rebellion. There is something compelling about a group (or individual) who throws caution to the wind and rises up in armed defiance against oppression, tyranny, religion, the government–you name it. No matter the cause, or how small the chance, it’s the courage to fight for what is right against overwhelming odds that grabs our hearts and has us pumping our fists in the air.
On the other hand, the greater good isn’t always good for everybody, and someone (or some group) must enforce the laws necessary to keep the disaffected from tearing society apart. Where is the line between the freedom fighter and the insurgent, or is it simply a matter of perspective?
Win or lose, it’s the righteous struggle we cherish, and those who take up arms for a cause must walk The Razor’s Edge between liberator and extremist.
Edited by Troy Bucher & Joshua Palmatier, this military SF&F anthology will explore the heroes and villains on both sides of insurgencies. It will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each.


Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar:
In 2011, DAW published AFTER HOURS: TALES FROM THE UR-BAR, the first anthology edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, starting them down the road that eventually led to the formation of the small press Zombies Need Brains. Now, we’d like to return to that legendary time-traveling bar with all new authors and all new stories set throughout the ages. Here you will find heroes and villains alike, as the immortal bartender Gilgamesh serves up drinks mixed with magic and a dash of intrigue. And if you’re lucky, perhaps he’ll even mix you up his own special elixir! Edited by Patricia Bray & Joshua Palmatier, the anthology will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each.


Guilds and Glaives:
Sword and sorcery has long been a much beloved staple of the SF&F community, from Fritz Leiber’s “Lankhmar” novels and Moorcock’s “Elric” saga, to Violette Malan’s more recent “Dhulyn and Parno” series. Who doesn’t like a daring thief skulking through back alleys in the dark of night, or a deranged mage conjuring death spells in a bubbling cauldron? This anthology will tackle the subgenre of thieves, assassins, guilds, and dark magic with some of today’s hottest authors! Edited by S.C. Butler & Joshua Palmatier, it will contain approximately 14 stories with an average length of 6000 words each.



 

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited SPECTACLES! — #14

SPECIAL REPORT for File 770

THE GREATEST SHOW OFF EARTH – The Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

By Chris M. Barkley: My journey to Monday’s total solar eclipse actually began back on Saturday, March 7, 1970.

The eclipse began in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, up through central Mexico, across the Caribbean, up the Atlantic coast where Virginia Beach, VA and Halifax, Nova Scotia were in the path of totality and then out over the ocean.

Not only was I watching the coverage on network television, I also took a pinhole projector outside (as instructed by our science teacher) and watched in fascination as the Moon cover up 77% of the Sun. I remember feeling disappointed; I had seen eclipses depicted on television and the movies and I was anticipating that the sky would be become darker than what actually occurred, which was a slight was dimming around the horizon.

But the main thing I remembered was a science correspondent intoning that the next great solar eclipse would happen in the year 2017. I sat on the sofa and thought about THAT for a while. I tried to just imagine what life would be like that far into the future. What would I be like then? Would I even be alive? I was thirteen years old.

And today, August 21, 2017, a day I had been anticipating and preparing for forty-seven years was finally here.

I was awake at 6:20 a.m. The plan was good, the plan was simple. I drove from Cincinnati to Middletown, Ohio, to meet some old friends with airplanes, Doctor Bruce Walls (Retired) and his wife and navigator Liz and I will fly in a borrowed Cessna 182. Bruce’s nephew Mike, his wife Megan, their two-month old Daisy and mutual friends Jason, his wife Stephanie and two daughters, eight-year-old Sophia and five-year-old Olivia were in a Cessna 210.

Our pilots, Bruce Walls M.D. (retired) and Mike Crouse.

Mike Crouse, Bruce Walls, Liz Walls, Baby Daisy, Sophia, Jason, Olivia and Stephanie.

Your Intrepid Correspondent.

In the preliminary planning, the pilots had decided on going to one of three airports directly in the zone of totality, depending on weather conditions:

  • Sparta TN (SRB) 215 miles southwest, round trip flying time 3 hours
  • Perryville, MO (PCD) 275 miles west, round trip flying time 4 hours
  • Manning, SC (MNI) 411 miles southeast, round trip flying time 6 hours (7 in the 182)

On Sunday evening, the choice was made; the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport located between Cookeville and Sparta, TN was the closest spot AND had an excellent forecast for clear weather. When Bruce made reservations for the two planes, he also inquired about expected influx traffic at the airport. The manager on duty told him that they were expecting more planes than they thought and that the sooner we arrived, the better chance they had of securing their spots. This necessitated moving up our departure from 10:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

After checking the fuel levels and other pre-flight checks, we departed; Mike in the first plane took off first and we followed 20 minutes later.

In Transit To Sparta

Ascending, our plane rose above a light, but noticeable layer of haze. When I remarked about that, Bruce responded, “Well, this is actually pretty good flying weather for this time of the year.”  He also reassured me that the weather in Sparta was mostly clear and probably would not affect our viewing of the eclipse.

The only problem both planes had in transit was detouring around the airspace surrounding the Greater Cincinnati Airport due to the normally heavy traffic patterns. But this only added ten minutes to our flight time.

Fernald Power Plant along the Ohio River.

The Ohio River at 5000 feet.

Clear(er) sailing at 12,500 feet.

Upper Cumberland Regional Airport

An hour and a half later, we entered Upper Cumberland airspace of our target airport. Mike landed with a little difficulty as several planes request to land on the single landing strip at the same time. Apparently the word had gotten out to pilots in the area that the weather was clear here and this place had become a prime spot for viewing.

As Bruce was approaching he got an urgent call from two other pilots approaching from the southwest that they were aborting their flight paths. I knew that both Bruce and Liz had logged thousands of hours flying in all sorts of conditions so I wasn’t too worried…until I glanced back over my shoulder as we backed downwards and saw a Beechcraft Bonanza less than a quarter of a mile away and a few hundred feet below us turning very tightly to the right!

So, I just clenched my teeth slightly and settled back in my seat for the landing, which Bruce executed perfectly. After taxiing to a spot between two rows of hangers, we exited the plane to see that there were at least several dozen planes, fixed wing, small jets, helicopters and even an auto-gyro (?!?) lining the taxiways and hangar areas.

At 10:45 a.m. (Central) local time the sun was high over the airport and climbing. It was hot, almost 90 degrees but it was not very humid. The skies were clear, save for a few scattered cumulus clouds. The airport had set up a huge tent in a small field off one of the service areas. Nearby there were two food trucks and a small open trailer serving homemade machine cranked ice cream.  We all settled into the tent feasting on hot dogs, calzones, hamburgers, chips and cold beverages, all the while taking a glance upward with our eclipse glasses.

The line for the machine made ice cream.

All the while, a public address system in a tent nearby was playing a parade of sun and moon related songs including Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”,  Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse”, Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” and, of course, Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Jason complained that the dj should be severely reprimanded for not adjusting the bass, which he claimed was set too high.

At a few minutes past noon, we all looked up and noticed that the Moon had begun to cover the Sun at around the one o’clock position.

At 1:00 p.m., the Moon had covered more than fifty percent of the sun. Twenty minutes later the sunlight around the airport had noticeably dimmed.

Then the music stopped and Krystal Tyler, a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Physics and Astronomy at the Rochester Institute of Technology came on to explain that totality would begin in a few moments. She also advised everyone NOT to remove their protective glasses prematurely, least they damage their eyesight!  The ONLY time we should remove the glasses was during full totality. The total amount of time in totality was estimated to be 2 minutes and 39 seconds.

Krystal Tyler, Postdoctoral Researcher at the School of Physics and Astronomy at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Once she finished speaking, I hustled over quickly to get her name and take a picture for posterity. Once that was done, a woman standing near us glanced at the Star Trek Voyager comm. badge I was wearing and asked in a stage whisper, “Hey can you actually talk into those things?”

“Are you ‘asking for a friend’, I asked in an amused tone.

“Yeah!”

“I’m sorry, that’s classified,“ I said with a laugh. She gave a hearty laugh as well.

It was then that most of our party (except for Megan and Daisy) emerged from the tent and walked fifty or so yards into a clear spot approaching the runways. We turned to gaze towards the northwest, where the immense, seventy-mile-wide shadow was bearing down on us at a thousand miles an hour.

At 1:32 p.m., it began.  Suddenly it became incredibly dark.

I had hoped to capture the moment the shadow enveloped us by aiming my cell phone at a white building beyond the runway by about half a mile away. The transition was too fast for my eyes to discern. You will notice that as well in the nine-minute video I shot.

I tried to capture all of the ambiance of the event by making sure there were a few 360-degree shots, especially of the distant horizon, where the sun was shining outside the zone. Some of my companions can be heard shouting that they could see Mercury and several prominent stars, but I focused in on getting a shot of what I thought was Jupiter but must have been Venus, a fuzzy but unmistakable presence just off the right of the eclipse.

2:13pm: There is a noticable dimming of sunlight, especially around the horizon.

And I as I tried to hold the camera steadily, I glanced upward to see the eclipse…which looked BETTER and MORE AWE INSPIRING than any special effect I had seen in any movie! EVER!

2:22pm: Photo of the Sun taken with the cell phone with the lens covered by the eclipse glasses. Cell phone cameras are notorious for taking terrible pictures of celestial objects…

But just as I was getting used to the darkness, it was over. The Sun emerged to the gasps, cheers and laughter of the crowd of thousands.

And, as the sun fully emerged, the audience sprinted towards their planes.

Mike and his crew were gassed up and gone in ninety minutes, Bruce Liz and I followed a half an hour later. The flight back was uneventful and we landed back in Middletown around 5:30 pm local time, just 20 minutes ahead of a line of thundershowers approaching from the west.

Well, I can truthfully say that I witnessed one of the most profound spectacles of my lifetime.

Or HAVE I?

The next great North American solar eclipse will occur on April 8th, 2024 and it is happening practically in my back yard: https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2024Apr08Tgoogle.html

Oh YES, we’re taking reservations RIGHT NOW! Heh!

Eaton Collection Puts Jay Kay Klein Photos Online

Nearly 6,000 photos taken by Jay Kay Klein at eight Worldcons in the Sixties were made available for viewing online today by the UC Riverside Library.

The digitization of these photos was covered by Inside UCR on August 10 —

The California Digital Library and the UCR Library recently partnered to digitize nearly 6,000 photographs from the Jay Kay Klein papers – and completed the task in less than two days.

“If we had done the same project in-house, it would have taken us several months to do,” said University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble.

UC Riverside is the first among the entire UC system to employ this specialized workflow with proprietary object holders designed by Pixel Acuity. The company has used the process with previous clients that include the Smithsonian Institution and Stanford University.

Klein contributed his photo collection of 66,000 images of sf fandom and authors to UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection prior to his death in 2012, a collection valued at $1.4 million. His estate also donated $3.5 million and helped create the UCR Library’s Jay Kay and Doris Klein Librarian for Science Fiction.

The eight Worldcons documented in the photos are: Pittcon (1960), Chicon III (1962), Discon I (1964), Tricon (1966), Nycon 3 (1967), Baycon (1968), St. Louiscon (1969), Noreascon (1971).

Unfortunately, the names of the people in most of these pictures have not been included, which impairs their usefulness to fanhistorians.

An overview of everything in the Jay Kay Klein papers is here.

(Doll and Alexis Gilliland, and their son.)

[Via Locus Online.]

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #12

Dear America, We Need to Talk…

By Chris M. Barkley: Hey America, rough weekend?

Yeah, I was watching and listening. Now, we need to talk. About what happened in Charlottesville.

And other things.

I am an African-American man. I was not born of privilege. Each day, I know that I am a marked man.

Marked as a threat by white people. Marked as a security risk by store owners. Marked to be maimed or murdered by fascists, racists and white supremacists. Marked for scrutiny (or worse) by various agents of law enforcement.

All because my skin tone is darker than their own.

But each day I awake, rise and step out my door, America. I do so with the full knowledge that I may never return to the embrace of my loving partner, my family and friends. I may fear all the things that may happen to me in the course of a day, but that is leavened by what I know:

  • That my parents, loved me enough to bring me into this troubled world.
  • That they provided me with a comfortable home, the love, guidance, education and love to be a kind and thoughtful person.
  • And that these things were given to me, my life, beliefs, associations and citizenship, are protected by the Constitution of the United States of America.

I was born a child of the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower; smack dap in the middle of the past century. My father, Erbil Augustine Barkley and my grandmother, who hailed from Birmingham, Alabama, came north to Cincinnati as part of the black diaspora of the 1930’s. My mother, Alice Elder and her four orphaned sisters came to Ohio to attend school. When they met, in a corner drugstore in the neighborhood I grew up in as a child, it was love at first sight. The best and worst of American history lay ahead of me.

I grew up in the age of science and science fiction. Vaccines. Lasers. Computers. Jonny Quest, Fireball XL-5 and Star Trek! Actual men flying actual space capsules, solo, in pairs and then, more. Neil Freaking Armstrong and Buzz Freaking Aldrin walking on the freaking MOON in the summer of ‘69, America! And all of this was balanced out by my constant fear of being vaporized in a nuclear war, the ongoing communist menace, the Vietnam War on the evening news everyday and the constant threats from the nuns at school and in the bullies on the neighborhood streets.

I mostly kept to myself, riding my bike, walking, watching old movies on television and reading. I read throughout the Silver Age of DC, Marvel, Gold Key and Charlton comic books. I read the adventures Danny Dunn and Alvin Fernald. I also dabbled in young adult books by Madeleine L’Engle and Isaac Asimov and Eleanor Cameron. These pursuits were not as frivolous as my parents made them out to be; they were essential tools that led to my being who I am today.

In 1976, I had the good fortune to fall in with sf fandom, which changed my life forever. Author David Gerrold recently described sf (and fandom, too, I think) as, “our private little secret, sniffed at by those who ‘knew better.’” Fandom has been my second family for over forty years and I have never regretted my association with these wonderful people who greeted me with wide and open arms.

But lately America, the stresses and strains of these modern times have tested even the strongest bonds of the best of families.

Nowadays, with social media and modern communication systems, a misunderstanding, a rumor, faked news or blatant lie can circle the globe a million times before the truth finishes rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

I am the direct descendent of people enslaved here. I don’t want revenge. I don’t want reparations for the actions of people I have never met or seen.

You know what I really want, America? I want all of us dwelling here to have a lengthy conversation about slavery, Native American genocide, immigration, the treatment of the veterans of our armed services and the basic right to just be FREE.

Free to explore places I’ve never been. Free to love my partner and friends. Free to hate the New York Yankees (in a benign way, of course), free to assemble peacefully, free to protest, free to make mistakes,  free to watch, comment, read and speak. These freedoms should be extended to everyone without reserve; to those I agree with but ESPECIALLY to those of whom I disagree with.

As I wise person I encountered once said, The First Amendment and the freedom to speak isn’t a private dance party limited to the elites, best buds or your social clique. Everyone dances and no one should be excluded.

I know that these freedoms come with a price and that while I am free to speak and express myself, I am not free from the consequences of any of my decisions.

And if the fascists, racists, opportunists, fear and hate merchants have their way and change to Constitution, to place legal limits on the freedoms we hold so dear, I am afraid that I and many of my family and friends may come to a parting of ways with you. This is a shame, because while 241 years is quite a run for a freedom loving people, I expected you to last far past my lifetime and far into the future.

I never met the late Heather Heyer, but I consider her to be my sister. According to her friends and family, she was an advocate of the poor and disadvantaged in her city.

I mourn her death because she did not have to be downtown in Charlottesville on a beautiful Saturday protesting the presence of fascists, nazis, and other merchants of hate and fear. She WANTED to be there because she wanted to show them that she was not afraid of them and to show them what the true face of democracy looks like.

Her martyrdom and the injuries to the wounded were sudden, brutal and so unnecessary.

What have we become, America? Can we honestly look in the mirror and call ourselves “that shining city on the hill” anymore?

We are no longer the envy of the civilized world. We are no longer considered the gold standard of liberty.

The slow erosion of American manners and civility, in the course of our everyday lives, in our business and trade practices and especially with our politics, makes us out to be a country to be loathed and feared. The current occupant of the White House and his minions are reinforcing this heinous message with each passing day.

We are on the verge of a new Civil War. But what will be different about this new war is that won’t be fighting about borders or slavery, we’ll be in conflict between the haves and have-nots, the disenfranchised verses the uninformed, the rich and bigoted against the poor and minorities of all races and beliefs.

And so America, the battle is on. The battle for your heart and your soul. Who will prevail?

And despite the pessimism and grief I have expressed in this letter to you, I believe in my heart that there are more Americans who want to maintain our shores as a beacon of freedom and prosperity than there are those who would seek to tear it all down.

For the sake of my families, my friends and fellow freedom fighters, I hope it’s us.

See you in the streets. Best Wishes,

Chris B.

Help Pick What SFF Goes On This Bookstore’s Shelves

By Cat Eldridge: Here’s a rare opportunity for all of you: help stock the science fiction and fantasy section at Longfellow Books, a locally owned shop here in Portland, Maine. It’s been around for some thirty-five years and is definitely a community asset.

Jack, one of the managers there, asked my advice on doing a revamp of what they stock in that section.  Right how it’s a haphazard stock consisting of older books that didn’t sell and newer material based largely on what travelling book reps suggest. There’s roughly one hundred and twenty linear feet of shelf space in his section.

What Jack wants is a mix of classic older titles that would sell well and newer fiction that you think will be profitable too. If you mention a series, please note what back titles in that series need stocking as well. Likewise, for titles not yet out, note when they’re coming out.

He asked for the fifty titles which Longfellow Books should stock, so be generous with your choices. Please publish your selections in comments here.  Don’t feel obligated to list fifty titles, just list those you think should be stocked.

Thanks to all of you for assistance!

 

Into the Unknown at the London Barbican

Twiki, menaced by Robbie in the background

By Mark Hepworth: The events that London’s premier arts venue The Barbican is currently hosting include a production of The Tempest, a viewing of a David Lynch biopic, a display of paintings on the subject of Sufism and music…and an exhibition on the history of Science Fiction. There is often a feeling of tension between SF and the artistic mainstream, be it a sense of resentment when someone like Margaret Atwood seems to try to manoeuvre away from the genre label, or slightly dismissive reviews in the ‘serious’ press. While genre barriers do seem to be falling, it’s still unusual to see SF getting such deep attention, and so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to fit in a visit to “Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction” to see how it treated its subject.

Billed as a festival-style exhibition with more than 800 works, it is scattered across several floors and areas of the Barbican. The curator is Swiss historian and writer Patrick Gyger, whose bio gives impressive credentials – he was director of the Swiss SF collection “Maison d’Ailleurs” where he opened a wing dedicated to Jules Verne, has worked with the European Space Agency, run Utopiales, and been GoH at Eurocon.

‘The Extraordinary Voyage’ itself

His exhibition begins with a walk through four loosely-themed sections, and in the first his love of Jules Verne comes through very clearly as you enter: Extraordinary Voyages begins with the early years of wonder and speculation, filling the space with models, displays, films, and books either from the early years of SF or inspired by it. It has a story to tell but doesn’t press its conclusions on you; rather it allows you to wander through and let the theme assemble itself. For example, here you can trace a line from the prehistoric creatures at the Centre Of The Earth through the modelwork of Harryhausen to portrayals of Godzilla. Finding these mini-themes among the artefacts is a voyage of discovery.

Modern Godzilla

Space Odysseys hits another familiar theme, giving us spaceships and spacesuits whose inhabitants tend to either find something wonderous, or get eaten by something terrible. The section seems to think that despite our fascination with all the things that could go wrong – from the technical challenges of The Martian to the many ravening aliens we imagine waiting for us – our native optimism is what comes through, with an interesting selection of old Soviet media showing the use of Space as a new heroic frontier shelved near to a script for “Journey Beyond the Stars” – hand-corrected as 2001 A Space Odyssey – and a copy of Merchanter’s Luck.

Spacesuit from ‘Sunshine’

Sokolov-Leonov 1960s postcards

‘Dune’ storyboards from Paul Allen’s private collection

‘Earth vs the Flying Saucers’

Next, Brave New Worlds turns its viewpoint inwards with dystopian societies and utopian cities, and reminds us that SF has always been imagining the future in ways both extravagant and – occasionally – accurate. We may not have our jetboots yet, but displays of what people were imagining of us a hundred years ago illustrate that they were hoping in vain for personal flying wings back then, too. The link between SF and architecture makes an interesting appearance here, with the cities of the future imagined by professional architects looking perhaps little different from the ones imagined by SF visionaries.

‘Mirrorshades’ and other seminal works

The main section ends with Final Frontiers: not space, but the body and the brain. Robots merge into cyborgs merge into AI as it makes the obvious – but true – observation that we’ve always been fascinated by what we will turn into, or create to compete with ourselves.

The many screens of ‘Final Frontiers’

The exhibition works by cramming so many elements together that you are forced to confront how they all interact. The result can be rather crowded and almost claustrophobic, as films overlay models and soundtracks clash so you can’t really settle and see any one thing. Each section has a fine display of books, acknowledging that while the silver screen may have produced the iconic visuals of SF, books have always provided the iconic ideas. Unfortunately, there’s not much to do with the books other than display them in cases to be stared at, which is no way to experience a story, and unfamiliar ones leave you to simply judge them by their cover. I’m sure something more could have been done to bring them fully into the story – displaying extracts or perhaps playing audio.

The books of ‘Extraordinary Voyages’

Those four parts comprise the heart of the exhibition and took me about an hour, but you could linger over some of the film clips for much longer if you wished though. I’ve only touched on the wealth of artefacts, some of which were rather rare or valuable – there was only a very thin piece of plastic between me and an Amazing Stories #1 at one point – including original props, prototypes and artworks borrowed from private collections.

You then have to head out to find other elements scattered around the Barbican. Unfortunately for me, the other thing scattered around the Barbican on the day of my visit was a few hundred happy graduates and their families and so I missed out on several small elements among the crowds. I did descend into the basement to find an art installation entitled In Light of The Machine, in which a device casts ever-differing shadows around a dark and formless room. I suspect that on most days I would have filed this under ‘Modern Art is Rubbish’ but, suitably primed by the exhibition I found it linked back to the architecture of the Brave New Worlds section in quite an interesting way.

Dimensional Portal Machine__ from ‘Red Dwarf’ (note the beer can at the centre!)

The final part I visited was a short film titled In the Future, They Ate From the Finest Porcelain which lands somewhere between science-fiction and an artistic polemic, with things to say about how history and national identities are formed – by the victors – and an attempt to fight this process through “narrative resistance.” This definitely fell on the art side of the SF-art divide, and was rather on the nose in some of its imagery, but like the Machine two floors below it was an interesting experience after being primed by the exhibition to see how SF themes are portrayed both within and without genre culture.

I think what impressed me the most about the exhibition was how it wrangled the subject into some cohesive themes, but only in order to make you pause and consider rather than insist on the categorisations that we sometimes tangle ourselves up in. I’m not sure how well it would cater to a casual viewer without knowing at least some of the context, but if you treat it as food for thought you should come away with something worthwhile.

——

“Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction” at Barbican Centre

The genre-defining exhibition of art, design, film and literature.

From the 19th century cabinet of curiosities, to the vastness of space. Through future cities, into the inner landscapes of human perception.

Uncover the mysterious lands of Jules Verne and Ray Harryhausen where Science Fiction narratives first took root. Venture on an odyssey into our solar system, with vintage artwork promoting Soviet visions of space alongside immersive work by Soda_Jerk. Visit a gallery of aliens, and stand alongside iconic spacesuits from a galaxy of blockbusters including Star Trek and Interstellar.

Imagine dystopian worlds with Margaret Atwood and 28 Days Later. Then, with nowhere left to explore but human consciousness, delve deep and experience the transformation and mutation of the body through the eyes of Jack Kirby and Ex Machina.

Curated by historian and writer Patrick Gyger, this festival-style exhibition consists of more than 800 works, many of which have never been seen in the UK before. Continuing across the Centre, it includes artwork from Isaac Julien, Larissa Sansour and Conrad Shawcross, and an installation from the creators of Black Mirror.

Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction is curated by Barbican International Enterprises with co-production partners, Brandts –Museum of Art & Visual Culture, Denmark, and Onassis Cultural Centre – Athens, Greece. It will be staged at both venues before embarking on an international tour.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions — #9

Photographed at the Wild Light exhibit. Images used by permission.

By Chris M. Barkley:

Rick Lieder: The Modern Master of Mother Nature (and Coincidently, Horror)

Just on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio, off a semi-rural stretch of US 20, renowned artist Rick Lieder is the star of an exhibit of exquisite photographs at the National Center of Nature Photography at the Secor Metro Park. The exhibit, called Wild Light, will run through August 19.

Rick Lieder and Helen Frost at Wild Light exhibit.

Lieder produced several dozen framed photographs of birds, insects and other wildlife for display, in addition to nearly more 300 other images and videos projected throughout the center. He has been a working artist for quite some time. “I started working with mainstream newspapers and magazines in 1981,” he said. “I think my first book cover was for Berkley Books, a paperback edition of The Roswell Incident in 1987.” His fine art, photography and digital work has been featured in galleries in the Midwest and Canada.

Among the most well-known book covers he has produced are the award-winning YA novels Princess Academy (Shannon Hale), A Single Shard (Linda Sue Park), an X-Files novel, Ground Zero (Kevin J. Anderson), the reissued edition of Under Venus (Peter Straub)  and a number of vivid and compelling works for his wife Kathe Koja’s books, Kissing the Bees,  Skin, Going Under, Buddha Boy, The Blue Mirror and The Bastard’s Paradise.

As accomplished as these works are, he felt the need to stretch himself further as an artist. “I’ve always done some wildlife/nature photography since I picked up a camera, but most of the work I’m known for started about 2002.”

These interests led to a series of wildlife books, with prose and poetry written by Helen Frost, an eminent young adult author whose best known for the young-adult novel Keesha’s House, which was a Michael L. Printz Award honor book in 2004.

Rick Lieder and Helen Frost (Photo by Ryan Walsh, courtesy of Kid’s Ink Children’s Bookstore, 5 May 2017)

Lieder and Frost met by happenstance. “Helen was signing books here in Michigan at an event with Kathe Koja and Sarah Miller in 2007.” Both found they had a mutual admiration for nature and wildlife and their discussion soon turned towards collaborating on a project “It’s was a collaborative process right from the start,” said Frost.

“Rick and I are both deeply interested in the natural world—I keep my eyes open and try to find just the right words to share what I see, and Rick does the same with his camera. Sarah Ketchersid, our wonderful editor, is also a big part of the collaboration, and as a book progresses we work with a book designer and others at Candlewick to see it to fruition.”

”We put together our first book dummy soon after and started the long process of submitting it to publishers,” Lieder said. “Helen and I sold our first book together in 2010, which was published by Candlewick in 2012, Step Gently Out”.

That book was then followed by Sweep Up The Sun (2015), Among A Thousand Fireflies (2016) and their current book, Wake Up!, which was published in March.

When asked about how they work together, Frost said, “We talk together fairly frequently and, in addition to nailing down details of each current project, we often toss out ideas for new books. At first they might be vague: ‘Let’s do something with insects.’ Or ‘Everyone loves fireflies.’ Then as our work progresses, it becomes more focused—we might be looking at images of birds and realize that the smaller birds should go together in one book, and it could be mostly about birds in flight. As I write a poem, we start to match images to words. Sometimes Rick keeps working to get a better image to go with a line of a poem, and sometimes I revise my poem so that it will more naturally be paired with a particular image.”

For the most part, Lieder has found the subjects of his work relatively close to home. “The majority of my work is done in my backyard, but also in a few locations in Southeastern Michigan.”

His work was considered so detailed and remarkable that some of his photographic footage was featured in the PBS NOVA documentary \ Creatures of Light in 2016.

The event at the National Center of Nature Photography has been in the works for some time. “I showed my work to the Center’s director several years ago, and we began planning the exhibit. Summer is their busiest season, so the timing is nice.”

When asked whether or not he was still doing any genre related work, Lieder said, “I’m always doing new work, mostly paintings, some of which are SFF related. Many are fine art, so you won’t see them among my SFF images. I’m doing more work with my wife, Kathe Koja, and some of those are within the genre. I designed the dustjacket of her latest novel, Christopher Wild, which was published this month. I’m also working on some future book ideas, very much in the fantastic field.

“My wildlife work started as a fun sideline, and I’ve been surprised by its success. Working as an illustrator on someone else’s project can be frustrating, both financially and artistically. Regardless of genre, I always prefer to work on my own ideas. Being able to create my own books is wonderful, and has taken up much of my time. I’ve learned a lot collaborating with Helen Frost. I’m also hoping to combine my wildlife work with more fantastic story ideas.”

And of course, there is always the next book project, which is already under way. “Our next book will tell the story of a Sandhill crane family, and is scheduled for 2019,” Lieder said. “We’re just starting to design the book, and this spring I’ve been busy following newborn cranes.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

Photographed at the Wild Light exhibit. Images used by permission.