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).
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).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
Lori Meltzer and Joseph Meltzer
9 Surry Road
Arlington MA 02476-5933
[Thanks to Daniel Dern for the story; Lori Meltzer quoted with permission.]
(1) DANGER WILL ROBINSON! “’Lost in Space’ robot saved from Valley Village fire” reports Daily News.
TV and movie props that included a robot reportedly from TV’s “Lost in Space” were saved from destruction late Wednesday in Valley Village due to the efforts of Los Angeles firefighters.
The LAFD responded about 11:30 p.m. to a garage fire in the 5100 block of Whitsett Avenue. Firefighters attacked the blaze, which was electrical in nature, a fire department spokesman told a photographer at the scene.
The home belongs to a prop designer and special effects artist who was out of town at the time, according to a caretaker who woke to the smell of smoke.
(2) JOCULARITY. Two Easter hams are heard from.
Congrats @MidAmeriCon2 for being the first Worldcon in YEARS not to release a Hugo nominee list on Easter Saturday, ie Publicity Dead Zone.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) March 27, 2016
— Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley) March 27, 2016
(3) HEARSAY. Mark Evanier’s friend has convinced him this weekend’s blockbuster is “Not the World’s Finest” – as he explains at News From ME.
I don’t have a whole lot of interest in seeing the new Batman Vs. Superman movie, a film which has achieved something I didn’t think was possible. It actually caused my dear friend Leonard Maltin to use the word “sucks” in his review. Even Rob Schneider never managed that and lord, how he tried.
(4) PARAGRAPH FROM A FUTURE TRIP REPORT. GUFF delegate Jukka Halme outlined how he spent the day.
Sunday at Contact 2016 has been a small whirlwind. Moderated my first panel (Through New Eyes), which went really well. Chatted way too long at the Fan Fund table with the Usual Suspects. Bought books. Just a few. Waited ages for my Pad Thai at the hotel restaurant, that was brimming with people and not too many employees, Presented a Ditmar, with a little bit of Bob Silverberg routine (VERY little) to Galactic Suburbia. Held an auction for fan funds, which went smashingly well. And missed the bar, since this is a dry state and while it is apparently OK to sell alcohol during Easter Sunday, places either close up really early, or everybody had left the bar.
(5) AN AUTHOR’S USE OF NAVAJO CULTURE. “Utah author features Navajo characters, history in new science fiction thriller” in Deseret News.
After serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, Robison Wells, who lives in Holladay, fell in love with both the area and the people he served. When he wrote his newest book, “Dark Energy” (HarperTeen, $17.99, ages 13 and up), which features several Native American characters and is scheduled to be released March 29, he worried about portraying them in the correct way.
“I wanted to show respect for the culture,” he said. “I didn’t want to appropriate their culture or their traditions.”
He sent his manuscript out to a lot of Navajo readers to get their reactions and tried to adjust his book accordingly. He knew writing a story centering on Native American characters and history would be a difficult and controversial thing to do, but he felt that it was such a compelling story that he had to tell it.
(6) ADDRESS FOR HAMNER CONDOLENCES. Anyone wishing to send a letter or card to the family may do so at the address below.
P.O. Box 220038
Newhall, CA 91322
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born March 27, 1963 — Quentin Tarantino
(8) TODAY’S BLOOD-PRESSURE BOOSTER. Jason Sanford says “The Retro Hugo Awards must be fixed”.
If any particular Worldcon wants to give out Retro Hugos, then e-book and/or online anthologies of eligible authors and stories must be made available to those nominating for the awards. And that must include works which are not in the public domain. Yes, it would take time to do this but I imagine most publishers and/or author estates would be willing to make the stories available for members at no cost.
But even if voters have access to stories from decades ago, it’s still unlikely that as many people will take part in the Retro Hugo nominating process as takes part in nominating for the regular Hugos. This, unfortunately, leaves the Retro Hugos open to missing important works and to being gamed.
To fix this here’s my next suggestion: Use a combination of juries and regular Worldcon members to nominate works for the Retro Hugos.
I know juries seem like the ultimate insider power play, but when you’re dealing with stories published 75 or 100 years ago it can be useful to have experts in that genre time period also nominating stories. Perhaps the jury could nominate two of the five works in each category, and Worldcon members could nominate three of five. This also seems like a sensible way to make sure the nominated stories are truly the best that year has to offer.
(9) CAN MUSK AFFORD A MARTIAN ODYSSEY? “Neil deGrasse Tyson to Elon Musk: SpaceX Is ‘Delusional’ About Mars”. A writer at The Motley Fool explains Tyson’s reasons.
In less than 10 years from now, SpaceX may or may not beat NASA in the race to Mars. Astrophysicist, Hayden Planetarium director, and host of the National Geographic Channel’s StarTalk Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is placing his bet on “not.”
“The delusion is thinking that SpaceX is going to lead the space frontier. That’s just not going to happen…” Tyson said in an interview with The Verge. Tyson laid out his arguments for why fans of a solo SpaceX trip to Mars suffer from a “delusion.” According to Tyson, there are three main reasons SpaceX cannot go to Mars on its own.
Reason 1: Cost
“So if you’re going to bring in investors or venture capitalists and say, ‘Hey, I have an idea, I want to put the first humans on Mars.’ They’ll ask, ‘How much will it cost?’ You say, ‘A lot,'” Tyson said in the interview.
Tyson says it’s “very expensive” to go to Mars. How expensive? Some estimate $30 billion, but a bill of $160 billion isn’t out of the question, and critics in Congress charge that the total cost could reach $500 billion….
(10) CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? Camestros Felapton is away traveling for a month. During their absence, Timothy the Talking Cat has taken over the blog, and has been busy posting such literary gems as “Timothy retells Dune”.
…Now there was this posh elitist liberal progressive family called the Artyfarties. They like super sucked at making money. The dad was a real wimp and the mum was in some sort of feminist cult. The son looked like the crazy guy in Agents of Shield but younger and more wimpy. The kid Artyfarties thought he was so much smarter than everybody but was a big wimp.
Now Boss Harkonen took pity on the Artyfarties. Big mistake! But he had a kind heart and he hated to see the Artyfarties suck so badly at businessing. So Boss Harkonen says to Dad Artyfarties: “You can run this planet for me. It is the only place you get Old Spice Magic which makes people young and makes spaceships run. It’s a classic monopoly, you can’t go wrong. Just don’t screw it up!” ….
(11) MEASURING SUCTION. Which is worse? Timothy the Cat’s retelling, or David Lynch’s? It’s close. Here’s Jonathan K. Dick’s evaluation of the movie at A.V Club, “Dune can’t capture the novel’s incalculable brilliance”.
So what the hell is wrong with Lynch’s Dune? Before the collective “everything” echoes through the internet, it’s important to understand that the phrase itself “Lynch’s Dune” should already throw up the kind of red flags usually reserved for impending, air-raid level danger. Four years removed from his time behind the chair as director for the spirit-lifting biopic The Elephant Man and its eight Academy Award nominations, Lynch received the go-ahead from producer Raffaella De Laurentiis to direct the film adaption of Dune. This after 20 years, no less than 10 directors, producers, screenwriters, scripts, and general filmmaking anxiety that included the likes of Ridley Scott, Rudy Wurlitzer, Robert Greenhut, and of course the brilliantly documented attempt by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
(12) FIRST SEASON FLINTSONES COSPLAY? The Traveler from Galactic Journey amusingly interprets cosplay at this weekend’s WonderCon in terms of what fans knew in 1961 — “[March 27, 1961] What A Wonder! (WonderCon)”.
These are generally smallish affairs compared to their business-oriented cousins, with attendance running into the hundreds. But for the fan who normally has a local community of just a half-dozen fellows (and perhaps many more as pen pals), going to a convention is like a pilgrimage to Mecca. One meets people with completely different experiences, different perspectives. There is the opportunity to get news from far and wide on exciting new projects, both fan and professional. And the carousing is second to none, both in the heights of enthusiasm and creativity.
Take a look at my newly developed roll of shots from “WonderCon”, a sizeable affair held last weekend in Los Angeles. These are some dedicated fans, some fabulous costumes, and some terrific times!
First off, a few attendees who came in street clothes: …
(13) MILESTONES ABOVE THE SKY. Motherboard advises that “‘In Space We Trust’ is a Beautiful History of Exploration”
In the timeline (which for all its beauty will entirely monopolize your CPU usage) you navigate the history of space as a young cosmonaut. The timeline begins with the October 4, 1957 launch of Sputnik and takes the user through all the major space milestones: first spacecraft, journeys to other planets, landings on celestial bodies.
Each milestone is accompanied by a series of stunning animations, a brief description of the event and a link to a Wikipedia page on the topic in case you want to read more. Your journey is orchestrated with an ethereal soundtrack that is overlaid with sounds from space like cosmonauts on a radio or rocket engines igniting.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, and Will R. for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]
Creator of The Waltons and Falcon Crest and author of eight Twilight Zone episodes, Earl Hamner, Jr., passed away March 24. He was 92 and had been diagnosed with cancer in June 2014.
Hamner was the eldest of eight children from a rural Virginia family. He won a scholarship to college but after two years of study World War II intervened and he was drafted into the Army. When stationed in Paris, he said, “for a while I fell so in love with that city that I nearly left my own country behind.”
Hamner married Jane Martin in 1954 and they had two children. While they were living in New York, he got his start writing for such TV shows as The Kate Smith Hour and Justice.
He later moved to California: “When I came from New York to Hollywood in 1961 Rod Serling gave me my first job – an assignment on The Twilight Zone. That job opened the door to a lifelong career in television and film and I will always be in Rod’s debt.”
Earl Hamner, Jr.s Twilight Zone credits are “The Hunt” (1962), “A Piano in the House” (1962), “Jess-Belle” (1963), “Ring-a-Ding Girl“, (1963), “You Drive” (1964), “Black Leather Jackets” (1964), “Stopover in a Quiet Town” (1964), “The Bewitchin’ Pool” (1964).
The early Sixties is also when Hamner’s novel was made into the movie Spencer’s Mountain, starring Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara, which was turned into the TV show, The Waltons.
His genre work includes the screen adaptation of Charlotte’s Web (1973).
Late in life Hamner often did signings at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, sometimes sharing a birthday party there with George Clayton Johnson (both men were born on July 10).
Peggy Ranson, a very popular fanartist in the 1990s, passed away March 16 from cancer. The family’s obituary is here.
She grew up in Memphis, and attended Memphis State University. While living in New Orleans she worked as a commercial artist for D.H. Holmes and the Times Picayune.
Ranson was employed as an ad illustrator when she volunteered to help with the 1988 New Orleans Worldcon. Guy H. Lillian III remembers, “She co-edited the Nolacon II program book with me, did scads of inimitable and exquisite fan art, and graced every moment we spent with her.” Lillian writes that this piece was her first fan art.
She was an L. Ron Hubbard Illustrator of the Future contest finalist in 1990, and attended the awards ceremonies (see photo).
Ranson was a Best Fan Artist Hugo nominee every year from 1991-1998, winning in 1993. Lillian liked to say she was only the second fan from Louisiana (adopted) to win a Hugo (the first was Camille Cazedessus, publisher of ERB-dom.)
She did countless pieces of art for conventions, bids, and fanzines, and for charitable publications like the Charlie Card Fund’s 1991 Fantasy Art Calendar. Her work won Best in Show at the 1991 Worldcon art show (Chicon V).
There’s a small gallery of her black-and-white art at Fanac.org.
Ranson was a guest of honor at DeepSouthCon 34 in 1996, and Armadillocon 20 in 1998, and other small cons across the South.
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005 she fled to Memphis. Afterwards she wrote a long account of her escape and what it was like to return to the heavily damaged city in Challenger 23.
Although she did some cover art for professional publications, she does not seem to have pursued that as a vocation, for many of her assignments were for books by writers or small press publisers she knew well. This includes her covers for The NESFA Index to Short Science Fiction for 1989 (1992), Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordperson: The Complete Stories (1993) a paperback of George Alec Effinger stories from Swan Press, Girls for the Slime God (1997) a collection of stories edited by Mike Resnick, and Birthright: The Book of Man (1997) by Mike Resnick. She also did interiors for magazines, including Algis Budrys’ Tomorrow Speculative Fiction.
Ranson is survived by a sister and two brothers (one of them her twin), and several nieces and nephews.
The New York Review of Science Fiction #330 is a Special Memorial Issue devoted to the magazine’s co-founder, the late David G. Hartwell. Produced in conjunction with the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, it presents “a collection of memories, conversations, appreciations, poetry, arguments, and outpourings from friends, family, fellow travelers, clients, coworkers, and others whose lives David touched.”
The Ebook/PDF can be downloaded free here.
Andrew Porter, who sent me the link, cautions that the download link is live for only another four days. In case that’s true, get a move on! However, no time limit is mentioned in NYRSF’s announcement on Twitter –
— NewYorkReviewofSF (@NYRSF) March 16, 2016
— nor on vendor’s site, Weightlessbooks.com.
- Patrick Nielsen Hayden
- Kathryn Cramer
- Gary K. Wolfe
- Dave Drake
- Eugene Reynolds
- Gordon Van Gelder
- Mary Robinette Kowal
- James Morrow
- F. Brett Cox
- Marco Palmieri
- Henry Wessells
- Susan Palwick
- Toni Weisskopf
- Michael Swanwick
- Ann Crimmins
- Kit Reed
- Farah Mendlesohn
- Rudy Rucker
- Shira Daemon Houghton
- Joseph T. Berlant
- Judith Collins
- James Frenkel
- Jan Vane?k, Jr.
- Paul Levinson
- Kathryn Morrow
- Joe Milicia
- Michael Levy
- Gregory Benford
- Samuel R. Delany
- Jean-Louis Trudel
- Donald “Mack” Hassler
- Paul Park
- Randy Byers
- Gwyneth Jones
- Liz Argall
- Michael Bishop
- John Clute
- Lisa Padol
- Andy Duncan
- Yves Meynard
- Darrell Schweitzer
- David Brin
- Alex Donald
- Jo Walton
- B. Diane Martin and David G. Shaw
- Ron Drummond
- Alexei Panshin
- Christopher Brown
- Stephen B. Gerken
- Kevin J. Maroney