Our Loss, His Gain

By John Hertz:  Luckily I managed to attend the memorial service for Jim Busby (1954-2016) on Tuesday June 14th.  Luckily I managed enough presence of mind to say something suitable when the floor was opened.

JimBusby2

James Busby

We were in the spacious brick Latter-day Saints church at 2000 Artesia Bl., Torrance, CA 90504. The service was conducted by Zack Robertson, a bishop in the LDS lay clergy.

Pastors giving eulogies have the sober but perhaps inspiring duty of learning or refreshing memory about any parishioner whose life on Earth has ended. The rest of us most often need only recall people we knew well.  Not only the tasks near to hand are worthwhile.

Many in the room knew Jim from aerospace work, the science fiction community, or both. The memorial pamphlet began, “This death takes place in … the sunrise of a new world, a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish … and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings,” quoting James Tiberius Kirk.

Right after the opening hymn and invocation we heard “The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds in science,” quoting John Glenn, and “Wonder is the basis of Man’s desire to understand,” quoting Neil Armstrong.

Arlene Satin, Jim’s widow, told how she first met him. While in charge of Programming for a Westercon, and noticing he’d fallen off a list, she asked if he wanted to be put back on.  Good deeds can be rewarded.

Jim’s sister Alexis told how when she was twelve Jim already had her in a makeshift Space suit. Later for schools and other exhibitions he helped build detailed replicas, one of which, with Andy Monsen in it, came to the reception afterward.  Alexis said, “I got so sick of drinking Tang….  Jim, you won’t have to talk so much about Space to God, He was there first.”

The California Museum of Science & Industry, after Jim’s twenty years there, awarded him an honorary Doctorate in Space Science Information.

He advised the Hugo-finalist film Apollo 13 and the Emmy- and Golden-Globe-winning television miniseries From the Earth to the Moon – in which he also acted: he was the Grumman fellow tapping his pencil in the fifth episode, “Spider”.  That was lifelike.  We were all given pencils inscribed with Jim’s timeless expression, “Sorry.”  The episode, incidentally, used a real Lunar Module, built for Apollo 18.

We also heard due reference to the Ancient Honorable Order of Turtles, for Gene Cernan and Walt Cunningham still alive, and in memory of Jim, Donn F. Eisele, Paul Haney, Walter M. Schirra Jr., Donald K. Slayton, John L. Swigert, Walter C. Williams, and John F. Kennedy – no questions asked.

Mr. Robertson named sources he’d consulted. The first was File 770.  He inquired “Is Mike Glyer here?”  I answered “In spirit.”  So, of course, was Jim.

Honor him with a donation to Aerospace Legacy Foundation, P.O. Box 40684, Downey, CA 90239.

Remembering Jim Burns

Jim Burns and Steve Vertlieb.

Jim Burns and Steve Vertlieb.

By Steve Vertlieb: My win for the 2016 Rondo Hall Of Fame Award the other night was, is, and always will be tempered by the heartbreaking news and realization that my beloved friend and brother, Jim Burns, has tragically passed away at age fifty-four of an undisclosed illness. Jim was one of the best friends that it’s ever been my honor to have. He was a cherished pal, confidante, and brother. Jim and I would speak for hours on the telephone, catching up on the latest news, talking, and always, always laughing.

When I nearly died just six or so years ago during major open heart surgery, Jim was ever on the telephone, and always sending me supportive e-mails and love.

Jim pushed hard for my lifetime achievement award at the Rondo’s every year, and it was Jim who joyously announced my win for the Hall Of Fame by awaking me from a deep sleep just two months ago to inform me that I’d been elected to the Rondo Hall Of Fame.

My elation on Saturday morning in Louisville, Kentucky, was abruptly shattered when David Colton (the head ot the Rondo Awards, and former editor of U.S.A. TODAY) gave me the terrible, terrible news that Jim has passed away on Thursday, June 2nd.

Jim…I love you. I shall always love you. I cannot believe that I’ll never hear your voice, or your terrible jokes ever again. I cannot believe that I’ll never again know the happiness of reading your prolific commentary on the arts. Your work was sheer poetry. It was beautiful, haunting, and evocative. Your last years were tortured, and I hope that you found a degree of comfort in my love and respect for you, and in our profound bonding and friendship.

I dedicated my Rondo Award to you in my acceptance speech in Louisville Saturday evening. You always wanted to win a Rondo but never had an opportunity to do so. May it bring you a degree of solace to know that David Colton dedicated this year’s Rondo Awards ceremony to you. I love you, Jim. I miss you…and I cannot believe that I will never have an opportunity to speak with you again. God Bless you, my friend. God Bless you, my cherished brother. Sleep well, Prince Jim. Sleep throughout eternity in the knowledge that you shall always be loved….both by me, and by so many adoring friends and fans.

James H. Burns Has Died

James H Burns

A day of mourning. Frequent File 770 contributor James H. Burns has died, found by his landlord on June 2. A month ago Jim was hospitalized for blood clots in his legs and put on blood thinners. After he was released, Jim also told me he was troubled by other medical “mysteries,” comparing his case to an episode of House but without ever saying in so many words what the problems were.

Now other friends of Burns’ are saying on Facebook that doctors found a lump in his lungs and he’d been scheduled for a biopsy on Wednesday, but having no one to go with him had stayed home. By the next day he passed away.

Jim was about 56 years old. When this photo was taken by Patrick O’Neill in 1976 or 1977, he was about thirteen or fourteen years old – and already writing for some of the science fiction film magazines. (On the right is longtime sf fan and 1970s convention organizer, Steve Rosenstein.)

File 770's very own James H. Burns (back when he was more usually known as Jim!), circa 1976 or 1977 (when he was only thirteen or fourteen years old, but already writing for some of the science fiction film magazines!), with long time SF fan and 1970s convention organizer, Steve Rosenstein. Photo by Patrick O’Neill.

James H. Burns circa 1976 or 1977 with long time SF fan and 1970s convention organizer, Steve Rosenstein. Photo by Patrick O’Neill.

He was among the first writers for Starlog and a contributing editor to Fantastic Films, and Steranko’s Prevue. Jim was one of the first genre magazine nonfiction writers to cross over to mainstream publications like Gentleman’s Quarterly, Esquire and American Film, while continuing to write for Cinefantastique, Starburst, Heavy Metal and Twilight Zone magazines.

Jim also had the chance to appear in some movies, given minor parts in Igor and the Lunatics (1985), On the Q.T. (1999) and For Love of the Game (1999).

In his last years he became active in radio, and authored Op-Eds and features for Newsday, The Village Voice, thesportingnews.com and The New York Times.

Jim had a large fund of anecdotes about sf, movies, tv and the New York theater, which he enjoyed sharing on several fannish blogs and in the forums at the Classic Horror Film Board.

Around 2012, Jim discovered File 770. Initially I was signal boosting his pieces for other sites, Jim earning his way by authoring entertaining original “hooks” that made fans want to click and read the rest.

I always wished Jim was writing that stuff for me – and eventually my wish came true. He became one of the most active and creative participants here. The past two years we’ve exchanged e-mails every couple of days, Jim constantly coming up with ideas, drafting new articles, or finding ways to adapt material published earlier in his career.

Jim was especially proud of a trio of posts that paid tribute to the influence of his father — My Father, And The Brontosaurus, Sons of a Mesozoic Age, and World War II, and a Lexicon in Time.

Quite often his posts here were inspired by memories of “growing up fannish,” such as the very popular Once, When We Were All Scientists, and CLANKY!.

He also wrote about celebrities he’d known (Joe Franklin, R.I.P., THE Man from U.N.C.L.E.), comics history (Marvel Comics to Implode — End of a Fifty-Plus Year Era and Lee Falk’s Phantom of Happy Memory), longtime figures in NY fandom who’d passed away (Alan Levine, “Original Dealer,” 79 Years Old, R.I.P.), and pop culture classics that needed a champion (Are We Ready Again For George Pal’s Puppetoons?).

Jim’s strength as a writer was his ability to remind readers why they were – as he was – sentimentally attached to the works and experiences that brought us into fandom. That’s been a lifeline for me amid the uninterrupted controversies that fill my blog. Filers often ask each other what they love. That question was one Jim clearly enjoyed answering over and over. How much he will be missed.

James Busby Passes Away

JimBusby2

James Busby

Space flight historian James Milton Busby died June 1 after a lengthy hospitalization. He was 61 years old, and had suffered many health problems in recent years.

He is survived by his wife, Arlene, a longtime LASFS member. They married in 2012.

James volunteered and consulted with the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles on the 1980 redesign of their aerospace museum. He was hired in 1984 as a museum assistant and was employed there until 2003. The museum awarded James with an Honorary Doctorate degree of Space Science Information.

He was part of the Organization to Support Space Exploration, the first group to do historical recreations of the Apollo Moonwalks. In 1979 they became involved with Rockwell International’s speakers bureau in Downey, Ca. where James was master of ceremonies for the open houses and astronaut visits to the plant from 1979 until he plant closed in 1999.

In 1994, he assisted in the Universal film Apollo-13 and participated in the Tom Hanks-produced Apollo miniseries From the Earth to the Moon as a technical advisor, historian — and actor. He appeared as a “pencil tapping Lunar Module designer” in the fifth episode, “Spider.”

James was employed in 1999 by the Space Frontier Foundation as Director for its International Lunar Conferences for two years.

He also worked in space suit sales and rentals at Global Effects in Hollywood.

He served on the History Committee for the American Astronautics Society, and frequently wrote for Space Times magazine and Apogee Publishers Mission Report book series.

In 2006 he joined XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, Ca, to rebuild their media relations.

Late in life he was part of the Aerospace Legacy Foundation of Downey, CA and had been trying to raise funds to represent ALF at Spacefest VII next week in Tucson.

James and Arlene Busby

James and Arlene Busby

Burt Kwouk (1930-2016)

By Steve Green: Burt Kwouk, British actor, has died aged 85. Genre appearances include Curse of the Fly (1965), The Avengers (three episodes, 1961-65), Out of the Unknown (one episode, 1965), the first episode of The Champions (1968), The Tomorrow People (two episodes, 1978), Doctor Who (the 1982 four-parter ‘Four to Doomsday’) and Spirit Warriors (four episodes, 2010).

Alan Young (1919-2016)

Mister Ed and Alan Young.

Mister Ed and Alan Young.

Radio, movie and TV actor Alan Young died May 19 at the age of 96. A popular and versatile comedian, he began his entertainment career on the radio at age 13, and had his own show at 17. Changing mediums, he won a 1951 Emmy Award as “Outstanding Lead Actor” for the television version of The Alan Young Show.

His best known venture into science fiction was as Filby, the Time Traveler’s loyal friend in George Pal’s The Time Machine (1960) – which he recreated in 1993 for a mini-sequel, Time Machine: The Journey Back, together with Rod Taylor as the Time Traveler. Young continued to be associated with the Wells opus, given a cameo in Simon Wells’ remake of The Time Machine (2002), and voicing the narration for 7th Voyage Productions’ animated version of The Time Machine (not yet released).

Alan Young as Filby in The Time Machine.

Alan Young as Filby in The Time Machine (1960).

As for fantasy — he and the talking horse, of course, spent five seasons together in the TV comedy Mister Ed.

Following the series’ cancellation in 1966, Young was cast as Stanley H. Beamish, the lead in the unaired pilot of a superhero series, Mr. Terrific, but another actor was given the role of when episodes were ordered by CBS.

In the Seventies, Young had a supporting role in another talking animal production, the forgettable Disney movie The Cat from Outer Space (1978).

A UFO is stranded on earth and impounded by the US government. Its pilot, a cat with a collar that has special powers, including the ability to allow the cat to communicate with humans…

Young transitioned into a career as a voice actor, frequently working on sf/f kid shows like Battle of the Planets, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy Doo, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Rubik, the Amazing Cube, as well as TV’s The Incredible Hulk, and animated films Beauty and the Beast, and The Great Mouse Detective (sharing voice work with other distinguished cast members like Vincent Price, Shani Wallis, and the archival voice of Basil Rathbone.)

After 1974 Young supplied the voice of Scrooge McDuck for many Disney videos and video games — DuckTales (1987-1990), the Kingdom Hearts series, DuckTales: Remastered in 2013, and the Mickey Mouse cartoon “Goofy’s First Love” released in 2015.

Scrooge McDuck and his voice.

Scrooge McDuck and Alan Young.

Ed Dravecky III (1968-2016)

Ed Dravecky III in 2009.

Ed Dravecky III in 2009.

Popular conrunning fan Ed Dravecky III died April 23 in Irving, TX while at Whofest, the convention he co-founded.

His brother wrote on Facebook:

When Eddy didn’t show up for an event, his longtime girlfriend Robyn went to his hotel room and found him unresponsive. He was rushed to the hospital where the medical staff worked on him for about 45 minutes but were unable to resuscitate him. The doctor said he died peacefully and painlessly.

Dravecky, a nationally-known conrunner, also co-founded FenCon in Dallas in 2004. He served as the event’s communications director and webmaster from the beginning.

He helped handle social media for LoneStarCon 3, the 2013 Worldcon in San Antonio, and was a past board member of its parent group, ALAMO, a Texas nonprofit corporation that has organized many major conventions.

Dravecky was a past president and held other offices in ORAC, the “Organized Rebel Adventurers Club” of Dallas/Ft. Worth.

His particular interests as a fan were MST3K and Doctor Who.

Dravecky attended Georgia Tech. Afterwards he spent a dozen years working as a radio disc jockey – “moving town to town, up and down the dial” like in the WKRP theme song. He said of his experience:

I broadcast under my own name as well as the airnames ‘Scott Montgomery’ (my idea) and ‘Skip Church’ (not my idea). Yes, “Skip” had the Sunday morning shift before the syndicated countdown show. Surprisingly, the station received no complaints.

He finally settled in Dallas, where he helped develop music scheduling and broadcast automation software with several leading companies.

Dravecky also devoted considerable time to being an active Wikipedia editor. Over 100 articles he worked on were featured in “Did You Know?” or recognized as “Good” articles.

Dravecky originally was from Huntsville, Alabama and his brother says he will be interred there. A service will be held at Huntsville’s Holy Spirit Catholic Church, and there will be a separate memorial service for his friends in Texas in a few weeks.

Philip Edward Kaldon Passes Away

Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon

SF author Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon died April 20. The cause of death has yet to be posted. His last few blog entries dealt with his health problems, and being treated by an orthopedic surgeon, although nothing he described as life-threatening.

Kaldon was born in upstate New York. After graduating high school in North Carolina in 1976, he took a B.A. at Northwestern, and advanced degrees in physics at Michigan Technological University. He taught physics at Western Michigan University for many years, and was known as “Dr. Phil” til the one on TV came along.

He attended the Clarion Workshop at East Lansing in 2004. “The Gravediggers,” his first published story, appeared that same year in Anthony D. Ravenscroft’s CrossTIME Science Fiction Anthology, Vol. III.

He also was a devoted competitor in the Writers of the Future contest. By the time his “A Man in the Moon” was published in L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Vol. 24 (2008) he had chalked up a total of three Finalists, two Semi-Finalists, ten Quarter-Finalists, and four Honorable Mentions.

Having his short story “The Brother on the Shelf” published in Analog (2009) was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. (Equally pleasing, the story was optioned by a producer.)

“Machine” and “In The Blink Of An Eye” both appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine in 2009. “Hail to the Victors” can be read at Abyss & Apex (2011). “End Run” (2012) was published by GigaNotoSaurus (edited by Ann Leckie).  

Two other stories are mentioned on his website: a contest entry published online, and a short story selected for a forthcoming anthology.

Kaldon is survived by Debbie, his wife of 32 years.

Justin Leiber (1938-2016)

Justin Leiber and his father, Fritz Leiber Jr., at a 1980s World Fantasy Convention. Photo by and Copyright © Andrew I. Porter.

Justin Leiber and his father, Fritz Leiber Jr., from a 1980s World Fantasy Convention. Photo by and Copyright © Andrew I. Porter.

Sf/f author Justin F. Leiber, retired philosophy professor, and son of Fritz Leiber, died of cancer March 22 in Tallahassee, Florida. He was 77. The family obituary is here.

He wrote the sf trilogy Beyond Rejection (1980), Beyond Humanity (1987), and Beyond Gravity (1988), and a pair of fantasy novels The Sword and the Eye and The Sword and the Tower (both 1985). His short story, “Tit for Tat,” was published in Amazing in 1987.

Leiber attended the University of Chicago Lab School, where he received his Ph.D. and Oxford University where he received his BPhil.

During his academic career, he taught at Lehman College (CUNY) and the University of Houston. He retired as a professor of philosophy from Florida State University. He worked mainly in philosophy of language, and also in philosophy of psychology and cognitive science.

Justin Leiber’s article about his father, “Fritz Leiber and Eyes,” first published in Algol/Starship in 1979, was reprinted by Earl Kemp in eI and can be read here.

…[In the summer of 1968] we were to see him at Clarion and then he was to visit us in Buffalo. I had just finished reading Fritz’ A Specter Is Haunting Texas, then serialized in Galaxy Magazine.

The specter in question is a tall and very thin native of the satellite communities who most wear a support exoskeleton to visit a Texas which some two hundred years hence has annexed much of North America. Scully, an actor by profession, becomes a useful symbolic figure in the bent-back revolution against the ruling class of Texans, who use hormones to reach Scully’s eight-foot height without mechanical support….

Scully, artist-actor like Fritz, does not change the world—he reflects it darkly. (The Communist Manifesto begins “A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of Communism …” I asked Fritz whether anyone in SF had noticed the source of his title. He said no.)

When I saw Fritz that summer of 1968 he was sporting all of 140 pounds on his six-foot-five frame—a mighty gaunt reduction from the accustomed 200 or so pounds. He was Scully, or so it seemed to me. He had the somewhat silly giddiness of Scully. And he was putting on a crazy dramatic act (at Clarion anyhow). I still have a clear vision of this cadaverous scarecrow capering about and teaching fencing at a drunken backyard party at Clarion….

At the Campbell Conference in 2001, when Fritz Leiber was posthumously inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, Justin Leiber was present to accept on behalf of his late father and participate in the rest of the conference.

Gregory Benford wrote on his memorial page, “He had deep knowledge of science fiction and informed his long view of it, learned also from his elegant father. He carried this into the Byzantium of philosophy with great insight.”

Leiber, unfortunately, found his academic colleagues were less accepting. On a panel at the 1988 Worldcon in New Orleans, wrote Evelyn Leeper, “Justin Leiber gave a long description of his experience with teaching a writing course at a college with a creative writing program. The fact that he was a successful author was bad enough, but that he was a successful science fiction author meant he was a total pariah.”

Leiber was the birth father of ArLynn Presser, who wrote romance novels under the pen name Vivian Leiber. In 2011, the Chicago Tribune ran a profile about her with some poignant family history:

Given up for adoption just before her third birthday, she endured a rocky childhood with her adoptive family and, later, in foster care…

[Her] biological father, Justin Leiber…, too, is a Facebook friend, whom she first tracked down through a private detective when she was 25. For her Facebook experiment, she traveled last winter to see him in Tallahassee, where he is a philosophy professor and writer.

A video post from that trip shows Presser retreating to a bathroom after her father guided her through the photos in his office; not one was of her or her sons. “I thought I was coming here because, well, yeah, he’s my Facebook friend, but I thought I was his daughter,” Presser says tearfully in the video. “He is just a guy who has a family, and I’m not part of that family.”

However, she was included in the family obituary published this March, named among Leiber’s survivors:

He was the beloved husband of Barbara R. Foorman of Tallahassee, FL; and father of KC Leiber of New York City and Arlynn Presser of Chicago, IL; and grandfather of Joseph and Eastman Presser and Jonquil Leiber-Wyatt.

Morris Keesan Has Passed Away

Lori Meltzer announced this morning:

Morris Keesan was pronounced dead a few minutes ago. He was 63 years old, died of a brain tumor that was diagnosed on his birthday in January. He will be missed by his wife and son, sister and other family members, and many friends worldwide.

Keesan had been a science fiction fan for decades. His knowledge and analysis will be missed in the comment section here at File 770 – and I’ll also miss his generous emails rescuing me from innumerable copyediting mistakes.

Condolences may be sent to:

lmeltzer@alum.bu.edu

Lori Meltzer and Joseph Meltzer
9 Surry Road
Arlington MA 02476-5933

[Thanks to Daniel Dern for the story; Lori Meltzer quoted with permission.]