Alan Dorey (1958-2017)

Alan Dorey

Alan Dorey, a major figure in British sf fandom since the late Seventies, died July 24. The cause was not announced.

Dorey was one of eight co-editors who started Interzone magazine in 1982, along with John Clute, Malcolm Edwards, Colin Greenland, Graham James, Roz Kaveney, Simon Ounsley and David Pringle. (Dorey left Interzone after issue 10.)

He first became active in fandom while attending Leeds University in the late Seventies. He co-founded the Surrey Limpwrists (a local club near his hometown), worked on the Eastercon committee, and was elected Chairman of the BSFA, all in 1979. He continued as BSFA chair until 1985. During that span he also wrote a lot of columns and reviews for BSFA’s fanzines Matrix and Vector.

His own fanzines included Black Hole for the Leeds University sf club, Gross Encounters, and Sirius (with Mike Dickinson).

His fanpublishing resume did not include the first issue of Another Bloody Fanzine (1979), although he and Joseph Nicholas shared the masthead. As Rob Hansen explains in his British fanhistory, THEN:

For some months, Alan Dorey and Joseph Nicholas had been telling everyone of their intention to puiblish a fan zine of that name that would be devoted to killer fanzine reviews to end all killer fanzine reviews, so when ABF 0 dropped onto their doormats most assumed it was the much awaited thunderbolt….

The hoax penned by David Langford and Kevin Smith caused at least as much of an uproar as had been promised by the real editors, and when Nicholas and Dorey did in fact put out an issue by that title in late 1979 it was almost anticlimactic.

Dorey’s fanac tailed off in the 1990s but in 2012 he revived Gross Encounters where he explained:

The late 1990s saw my activity increasingly head towards the back burner, taking its place amongst a host of other projects that sat there gently simmering away. I can’t quite place my finger on the exact moment, but sometime between 1998 and the fuss over the new millennium, the shilling in the meter must have run out and the burner flickered no more.

By then his real passion was his radio show. Dorey’s first experience in radio came decades ago at BBC Radio Manchester. He wrote book reviews and discussed them on air with the show’s host, Briony Barton. Since 2006 he had been a presenter and DJ at Forest FM, where his show was called “Music Box.” Dorey described it this way –

The show runs to a loose format which can be summed up as “old, New, Borrowed, Blues” . It’s a simple formula, but it works and it ensures that there’s always plenty of new music as well as older sounds and a mix of genres. There’s a handy little phrase in putting a show together—”hammocking”: this is the process of bookending segments with more familiar music so that casual listeners aren’t put off with too much new and unfamiliar music.

Today many listeners have left messages on his Facebook page praising his openness to new music and support for local artists.

Dorey is survived by his wife, Rochelle, and their children.

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

John Heard (1945-2017)

By Steve Green: John Heard, American actor; died July 21, aged 72. Genre appearances include Cat People (1982), C.H.U.D. (1984), Tales from the Darkside (one episode, 1985), The Seventh Sign, Big (both 1988), The Outer Limits (one episode, 1995), Touched by an Angel (one episode, 2002), Locusts (2005), Battlestar Galactica (one episode, 2006), Justice League: The New Frontier (voice, 2008), Sharknado (2013). Living Among Us, a fake documentary about modern-day vampires, is currently in post-production.

Doctor Who Companion Debbie Watling Dies

Watling with an Ice Warrior in a 1967 episode of Doctor Who.

By Steve Green: Deborah (Debbie) Watling (1948-2017): British actress, died 21 July aged 69 Best-known for playing Patrick Troughton’s companion “Victoria” in Doctor Who (40 episodes, 1967-68), her other genre appearances included H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man (11 episodes, 1958-59), Out of the Unknown (1966 adaptation of John Rankine’s ‘The World in Silence’), Where Time Began (a 1977 animated adaptation of Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth). She reprised her Doctor Who role in the 1993 Comic Relief minisode Dimensions in Time and the non-BBC Downtime (1995), then appeared as herself in the 2013 spoof The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, directed by former timelord Peter Davison.

She was a five-time guest at Gallifrey One, the Los Angeles Doctor Who con. Her first visit was in 1991.

Jordin Kare Passes Away

Jordin Kare (1956-2017), respected science panelist and filksinger, died July 19, having never recovered from surgery to replace his failing aortic valve.

An astrophysicist who worked on the Clementine lunar mapping mission and developed the Sailbeam propulsion concept, Kare received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1978 and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from University of California, Berkeley in 1984.

He told a Smithsonian interviewer in 2014 —

I went into astrophysics because I was interested in the large-scale functions of the universe, but I went to MIT because the hero of Robert Heinlein’s novel Have Spacesuit, Will Travel went to MIT.

He typically described his career in convention bios this way —

After working for a decade at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on big lasers and little spacecraft, Jordin became a freelance rocket scientist (really — “Will design satellites for food”). He’s won two NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts fellowships. Since 2007, he’s hung up his rocket scientist hat and works as a staff inventor at Intellectual Ventures. In his spare time he’s lead engineer for LaserMotive…

He said that as a child, he went to a science camp and learned how to build a laser. When he got his laser to turn on, he had an epiphany and was absolutely sure that he wanted to work with lasers for the rest of his life.

Kare and Thomas Nugent of LaserMotive won $900,000 at the Space Elevator Games in 2009. Theirs was one of three competing teams which built prototypes designed to climb a one-kilometer cable held aloft by a helicopter. Kare explains how LaserMotive won in this video.

As a filksinger he published two albums, Fire in the Sky (1991) and Parody Violation: Jordin Kare Straight and Twisted (2000). His song “Fire in the Sky” received a Pegasus award for Best Classic Filksong in 2010 and has been quoted on national television by astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Kare also was an editor of The Westerfilk Collection: Songs of Fantasy and Science Fiction, an important filksong collection, and later a partner in Off Centaur Publications, the first commercial publisher specializing in filk songbooks and recordings.

Kare’s first convention was Boskone 1975. He and his future wife Mary Kay met for the first time at Denvention (1981) after she admired his writing in the Filk Foundation zine.

He was the brother of Susan Kare, designer of the fonts and icons of the original Apple Macintosh user interface.

He has been Tuckerized in several sf stories. An astrophysicist character with his name appears in two of David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels, War of Honor and Torch of Freedom. Jordin and Mary Kay were Tuckerized in Callahan’s Touch by Spider Robinson.

George A. Romero (1940-2017)

American horror film director George A. Romero (1940-2017) died today (July 16), aged 77. Romero died in his sleep on Sunday after a ” brief but aggressive battle” with lung cancer, his manager told Variety.

Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) seeded the culture’s grim fascination with zombies.

His other genre films included: Season of the Witch (1972), The Crazies (1973), Martin, Dawn of the Dead (both 1978), Creepshow (1982), Monkey Shines (1988), Two Evil Eyes (1990, directed the segment “The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar”), The Dark Half (1993), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007), and Survival of the Dead (2009).

Romero told an interviewer:

I don’t try to answer any questions or preach. My personality and my opinions come through in the satire of the films, but I think of them as a snapshot of the time. I have this device, or conceit, where something happens in the world and I can say, ‘Ooo, I’ll talk about that, and I can throw zombies in it! And get it made!’ You know, it’s kind of my ticket to ride.

He also said:

My zombie films have been so far apart that I’ve been able to reflect the socio-political climates of the different decades. I have this conceit that they’re a little bit of a chronicle, a cinematic diary of what’s going on.

In addition to making movies, Romero was executive producer for the TV series Tales from the Darkside, which ran 77 episodes from 1984-1988.

Romero won the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

A pop culture legend, Romero had many cameos and uncredited appearances in movie and TV productions. His last acting credit was for voicing character “Don Adaded” in a 2014 episode of Phineas and Ferb, “Night of the Living Pharmacists.”

[Thanks to Steve Green and Chip Hitchcock for the story.]

LASFSian Dwain Kaiser Killed

Dwain Kaiser at LASFS 70th Anniversary Meeting in 2004. Photo by Mike Glyer.

LASFS member Dwain Kaiser (1947-2017) was shot to death on July 3 by a teenager who, together with his mother, lived with Kaiser and his wife in the apartment above their bookstore in Pomona.

Dwain George Kaiser, 69, owner of Magic Door Used Books, was shot several times and killed just after midnight in his apartment at 175 W. Second St., in the downtown Arts Colony area, police said. His apartment sits above the bookstore he and his wife have owned for more than a decade.

The teen suspect and his mother shared the apartment with Kaiser and his wife, according to Pomona police Sgt. Brian Hagerty. The two families are not related to each other. Hagerty said they were roommates.

It’s not clear what sparked the shooting.

Kaiser became an active fan in 1961 after receiving a copy of Cursed, edited by Arnie Katz and Len Bailes. His family moved to Las Vegas in 1963 and the next year he founded the Las Vegas SF Society.

When LASFS started APA-L in 1964 he began contributing a zine, and traveled to club meetings in LA when he could afford bus fare. He joined in 1965. The club had a place in his heart and he was one of the old-timers who came out for the LASFS’ 70th anniversary meeting in 2004, the last time I saw him in person.

His first convention was Pacificon II, the 1964 Worldcon, in Oakland, CA.

After his family moved from Vegas back to LA County in 1966, he started attending LASFS every week. With other San Gabriel Valley fans he also started the ValSFA. (Some of Kaiser’s photos from those days are here.)

Kaiser opened his first Magic Door used bookstore in 1967, in Claremont. (He closed it to return to college to avoid the draft.) Over the years, Kaiser opened several more in the Inland Empire including one in downtown Upland. The current store in Pomona was his fourth named Magic Door.

Dwain Kaiser was a highly active fanpublisher: a founding member of the amateur publishing associations APA-45 and TAPS, and the editor of many genzines, including Astron, Nimrod, Nonstop Fun Is Hard on the Heart, and No Time, No Energy & Not Much To Say.

He is survived by Joann, his wife of 32 years.

Joann and Dwain Kaiser at Loscon 2000. Photo by Dik Daniels.

Heathcote Williams (1941-2017)

By Steve Green: Heathcote Williams, British writer and actor, died 1 July, aged 75. Genre appearances include Slipstream (1989), Orlando (1992), Alice in Wonderland (1999), The Sandman (2000), Dinotopia (two episodes, 2002-3), and City of Ember (2008).

On a personal note, Ann and I caught him on a promotional reading tour for his verse-novel Whale Nation (1986). He was spectacular.

Hands Across the Water

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1252) “I only knew him for forty years,” said Wolf von Witting, “but in fact Waldemar began publishing Munich Round-Up before I was born.” It started in 1958, passing to Waldemar Kumming and Walter Reinecke in 1959, then continued under K after R died in 1981, for a total of 179 issues through 2014.

Von Witting first met Kumming in 1977. My first correspondence with K that I can find is from January 2001, after he asked me to help put names on photographs he’d taken for MRU at Chicon VI, the 58th World Science Fiction Convention, particularly costume photos; I’d judged the Masquerade, our on-stage costume competition.

He and I continued to correspond, and meet in person at Worldcons. I continued contributing to MRU, and gave it two hundred words in a review of fanzines for Chunga (“Unfolding Stars”, C 14, which I daren’t consider mostly harmless, prompted or not by that number). He knew the secret of the fearsome drink vurguzz (MRU 8, Van 483), whose relation to the world of Perry Rhodan is beyond my and perhaps your mortal powers. I tasted a bottle he offered me, also at Chicon VI, but by the time I recovered consciousness he had left that party and I missed my chance to inquire.

He joined the Science Fiction Club Deutschland — deliberately named with the first three words in English and the third in German, just as English-speakers at different times adopted Latin expressions like inter alia or French ones like à point, and in fact as Munich Round-Up, written in both German and English, was named in English — in 1956 as Member No. 481, and was its second chairman 1962-1968.

In 1967 he was brought into the Order of St. Fantony (there’s vurguzz again), Walter Ernsting giving the accolade. From the 1970s he was the German agent for Andy Porter’s Algol and S-F Chronicle. He was a Guest of Honor at Seacon ‘84, the combined Eastercon XXXV (United Kingdom) and Eurocon VIII. In 1993 he was given a Kurd Laßwitz Prize for MRU and his life work. In 2005 he was given the Big Heart, highest service award of the s-f community. He left us in April (1924-2017).

From 1959 he maintained the Phonothek (German; first h joins the p for the sound of f in derivations from Greek phi as with English, second h silent), sound recordings of German and international s-f gatherings, originally on magnetic tape which in those days was no small undertaking when you consider that the two Revox B77 recorders he used, excellent in their performance, each measured 18 x 16 x 8” (0.4 x 0.4 x 0.2 m) and weighed 37 lbs (17 kg).

With the new millennium Thomas Recktenwald, another great German fan, chair of SFCD, friend of K’s and mine, took on converting this wealth to digital media; see TR’s progress report, and fine appreciation of Kumming, in CounterClock 15 (Aug 2013).

He was humble yet unshrinking, generous, a good listener, as we all aspire. Few ever heard him raise his voice. There was one celebrated incident. The early days of SFCD were stormy. During one of its fierce verbal battles he suddenly cried “Stop!” All fell silent. He changed the tape in his machine and signaled the combatants to resume. R.I.P.

Denis Scheck, left, interviews Marion Zimmer Bradley, center, at STUCON 1980, while Waldemar Kumming captures it all on his tape recorder.

Anita Pallenberg (1944-2017)

By Steve Green: Model-turned-actress Anita Pallenberg died earlier today, aged 73. Her most famous roles were as ‘The Great Tyrant’ in Barbarella (1968) and one of the rock singer’s two muses in Performance (1970).Her final appearance was in 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011).

Adam West (1928-2017)

Adam West. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Adam West, who became an icon of popular culture playing Batman in the campy TV series of the Sixties, died June 9 at the age of 88.

He started acting as a teenager in several productions of the Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse (1954-1955), but it was another four years before his career really took off.

TV was full of Westerns in the late Fifties and the fittingly-named West popped up in a lot of them, the highlights being several episodes of Maverick, and playing the Doc Holliday character on three different ABC series during the 1959 season, Lawman, Colt .45, and Sugarfoot.

He made his feature movie debut in The Young Philadelphians with Paul Newman in 1959.

West’s first genre film was Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) — he played the astronaut who didn’t make it, leaving Paul Mantee’s title character on his own. That same year West again played a crewman in a Mars expedition on TV’s Outer Limits.

Starring in Batman two nights a week, from 1966-1968, vaulted him into celebrity status, accompanied by Burt Ward as Robin the Boy Wonder. The earnest character from the comic books was subverted and played for comedy, befitting a 1960s American society with conflicted attitudes about law enforcement, with colorful psychedelic imagery, and absurd visual sound effects in the spirit of Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art paintings. During its first season Batman was a huge success, rated the number 10 program on Wednesdays and number 5 on Thursdays.

However, by the end of Season 3 ratings had fallen off to a degree that the show was canceled.

West’s identification with the Batman character was so strong it kept him from resuming his former career of playing dramatic characters, as it was always feared that audiences would be thinking about the silly TV show when he was onscreen. He continued to work, but within options limited by his association with the character.

Adam West’s genre work in the years after Batman included Night Gallery (1971), an astronaut again in the TV movie Time Warp (1981), and Omega Cop (1990).

He also voiced Batman in the animated series The New Adventures of Batman, and for episodes of Tarzan and the Super 7, and Legends of the Superheroes, SuperFriends: the Legendary Super Powers Show, and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. However, as a voice actor in Batman:The Animated Series, he played The Gray Ghost. For The Animaniacs he was Spruce Wayne, The Caped Crusader. And in a later series, The Batman, he voiced Mayor Grunge.

In fact, over the last couple decades of his career, West became a very successful voice actor and velvet-voiced narrator. His most prominent recurring role was in Family Guy as the voice of Mayor Adam West, the horribly corrupt, inept and vain leader of Quahog, Rhode Island (2000-2017).

West made a rare on-camera appearance in 2016 on The Big Bang Theory when the CBS sitcom celebrated its 200th episode — and marked the 50th anniversary of Batman.

The actor is survived by his wife Marcelle, six children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.