David G. Hartwell (1941-2016)

David G. Hartwell at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

David G. Hartwell at the 2015 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Tor senior editor David G. Hartwell passed away January 20 in the aftermath of a massive stroke a day earlier.

Hartwell was a three-time Hugo winner, for Best Professional Editor (2006), and Best Professional Editor Long Form (2008, 2009). All told, as a professional editor, and co-editor of New York Review of SF, he was nominated for the Hugo a total of 41 times. He was Guest of Honor at the 2009 Worldcon in Montreal, Anticipation.

Hartwell also received World Fantasy Awards in 1988, a special award for his work editing anthologies, and another specifically for the anthology The Dark Descent.

He was the chair of the board of directors of the World Fantasy Convention and, with Gordon Van Gelder, the administrator of the Philip K. Dick Award.

(Left) Chuck Miller and (Right) David G. Hartwell at the 1982 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

(Left) Chuck Miller and (Right) David G. Hartwell at the 1982 World Fantasy Con. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Andrew Porter, who has been photographing Hartwell for decades, recalls: “I knew David since he was a live-in dorm proctor at Columbia, I think, in the early 70s. He was doing The Little Magazine and I, with a bunch of other SF fans, went to a reading at the 92nd Street YMHA by some little-known Canadian author, Margaret Atwood…”

He is survived by his wife, Kathryn Cramer (with whom he co-edited two annual Year’s Best anthologies for SF and Fantasy), and his children.

David G. Hartwell at BEA 2015. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

David G. Hartwell at BEA 2015. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Update 01/20/2015: This is a substantially rewritten post. The original prematurely announced Hartwell’s death.

Citations Provided

Isaac Asimov, Randall Garrett, and Harlan Ellison at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon.

Isaac Asimov, Randall Garrett, and Harlan Ellison at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon. Photo by Maggie Thompson.

In the 1970s I attended several conventions where Randall Garrett was on the program. I never personally interacted with him. Not even when I was co-chair of the 1978 Westercon, where we had to discourage Garrett from signing drinks to the convention’s master account. Somebody else got to bell that cat.

If I’d called him anything, it probably would have been “Sir” – he was an imposing figure. But I did hear a lot of other people refer to him as Randy in those days, which came to mind when I recently excerpted the Galactic Journey. I used “Randy Garrett” in the subhead, prompting this comment from Xtifr:

Note that Randall Garrett hated to be called “Randy”. Not that it really matters much at this point, but I still feel obliged to point it out.

I’d like to hear more about that. Because an awful lot of people who knew him did it.

Donald Westlake in an essay for Xero in 1960: “About a year ago, Henry Morrison asked Randy Garrett and me to speak at an ESFA meeting over in Jersey… And the last time I saw Randy Garrett (a week ago) he was working on a biography for decent money…”

Lin Carter in Beyond the Gates of Dream (1972): “Two blocks due west of where I lived was a mammoth residence hotel that the New York science fiction community called ‘Idiots’ Castle.’ Therein dwelt, at various times, Bob Silverberg, Randy Garrett, Harlan Ellison, Ron and Cindy Smith (then editing Inside, which had yet to win its fanzine Hugo) and other good people.”

Lawrence Block in Afterthoughts (2011): “He was a very interesting fellow, Randy Garrett…”

H. Beam Piper in a 1962 journal entry quoted in John Carr’s biography: “The next morning, ‘Met Fritz Leiber, Randy Garrett, Judy Merrill at breakfast and immediately became involved in a skit which was to be put on at the end of the convention.’”

Robert Silverberg, speaking at the 1968 Hugo Awards ceremony with Garrett in the audience: “I think it’s rather appropriate, in a way, that I am the one who’s filling in for Tony. For Tony, after all, is science fiction’s outstanding Catholic layman, and I, though I’m not Catholic, am recognized as the Pope by Randall Garrett. No, I’m quite, quite serious – no, Randy does recognize me as Pope. I’m probably the only Jewish boy who set out to become Pope, and ended up as President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. I recognize Randy, incidentally, as my Archbishop of Canterbury Designate.”

Mike Resnick in …Always a Fan, about Noreascon 4: “At 3:00 I moderated the panel that was the most fun of the con… hell, of the last half-dozen cons…. This included the stories of how John Campbell presided at his own funeral; how Ted Sturgeon and his wife, devout nudists, would invite couples over for dinner and greet them in the altogether; how Randy Garrett always stiffed worshipful new writers with huge dinner checks….”

Roger Ebert in a 1957 letter to a prozine: “I can’t understand how a fine writer like Randy Garrett can produce work like he does, then turn around and come up with that ‘Kyvor’ nonsense.”

Buck Coulson in Mimosa #11 (1993): “The con site was changed the next year, but I’ve been told that this was because Randy Garrett was surprised by the house detective in a compromising situation, there were blows exchanged, and the convention was invited to go somewhere else.”

Cory Seidman in her 1966 Worldcon report: “Yet a further refinement was the purchase of four pounds of black licorice jellybeans. One pound was left with Banquet Toast-master Isaac Asimov, in case Harlan got his Hugo. The remainder was divided into small packages and given to various people to be presented at intervals during the weekend. Even Boston’s own mild-mannered Hal Clement/Harry C. Stubbs is said to have sidled up to Ellison, muttering, ‘I believe these are yours.’ Now, the one kind of jellybeans that Harlan Ellison does not like happens to be black licorice. So if he had been bugged out of his mind before, now he was pretty well bugged out of the known universe. Which raised his innate aptitude for Randy Garrett-insulting to a new peak and provided much amusement for the assembled spectators.”

Philip Jose Farmer in an interview: “No, that’s the one I did with Randy Garrett, ‘The Ballad of Hillary Boon.’”

Maggie Thompson in 2010 remembering a panel at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon: “In any case, I was sitting a couple of rows back at a panel in which the entertainment consisted simply of (left to right) Isaac Asimov, Randy Garrett, and Harlan exchanging banter until the panel was over.”

Harlan Ellison in the Introduction to Again, Dangerous Visions (1971): “Randy Garrett isn’t here because, though he called one frantic November night and tried to hype me into sending him an advance against a story he would write, he never submitted a manuscript.”

He even used the name himself at times — Progress Report #1 of the 1957 Worldcon shows “Randy Garrett” is the name he used when he bought his membership.

Doug Hoylman (1943-2015)

Doug Hoylman.

Doug Hoylman.

Doug Hoylman’s six championships in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament are the exclusive focus of his Washington Post obituary, however, the longtime sf fan, who died on November 2, once was an active fanzine editor.

He grew up in the small town of Kalispell, Montana. He earned a B.A. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1969.

God comics HoylmanHoylman would have been a freshman at M.I.T. when he and Al Kuhfeld, another M.I.T. student, published God Comics #3: The World’s Most Blasphemous Comic Fanzine, with contents that included a Justice League parody called the “God Squad” featuring Thor, Mercury, Mary, Poseidon and Ball. The cover shows Batman removing his mask to reveal Wonder Woman.

Later, while editing the M.I.T. Science Fiction Society’s Twilight Zine, Hoylman advocated a viewpoint that so sharply contrasted with his contemporaries’ he is quoted in Peter Justin Kizilos-Clift’s 2009 dissertation “Humanizing the Cold War Campus: The Battle for Hearts and Minds at MIT, 1945-1965” –

While most science fiction readers were still men, more women were becoming readers, writers, and fans, and were being welcomed as equal participants into the MIT Science Fiction Society and the vast universe of science fiction. “Coeds are welcome in the society,” wrote Twilight Zine editor Doug Hoylman in November 1962, “in fact we have a disproportionate number of them. Our vicepresident and our treasurer are coeds. The views held by V—D— [Voodoo, the notoriously anti-feminist MIT humor magazine] and other forces of evil regarding Tech Coeds are not subscribed to by the Society.”

The first sf convention Hoylman attended was Pacificon II, the 1964 Worldcon in San Francisco.

He moved to the Washington area about 1970 and worked at Geico Insurance until the 1990s.

I’m missing some connecting history, but he was involved with NESFA closely enough to have been designated part of the club’s faux Fanzine Review Board in 1972, whose responsibilities were recorded in his apazine —

The Fanzine Control Act of 1971 is a little-known part of the Phase 2 economic program designed to fight fanzine inflation. Fanzines are important to the economy, particularly as regards the manufacturers of duplicating equipment and the United States Postal Service, and it is in the public interest to see that fanzines do not become so inflated that their publishers are unable to maintain them (the recent collapse of Science Fiction Review is a case in point).

The job of the Fanzine Review Board is to see to it that the President’s guidelines are enforced (these include a maximum permissible increase in number of pages of 5.5% per annum; any editor going from mimeograph to offset must have FRB approval).

The Board consists of five fans, five pros, and five large contributors to the Republican Party….

Hoylman also wrote a Holmes pastiche for the NESFA genzine Proper Boskonian, “Moriarty and the Binomial Theorem.”

When Minneapa was founded in the early 1970s he became a member, and was in the famous 1974 Minneapa group photo (as was Al Kuhfeld).

Wheile living in the DC area, he participated in the Washington Science Fiction Association. Google shows he was an active host of area gaming groups in his last years.

His dominance in crossword tournaments began with his 1988 championship, followed by others in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000. He also had three second-place finishes and three third-place finishes.

I hope File 770 readers who knew Doug Hoylman will add their memories about him in comments.

The 1972 SF Author Cruise To The Final Apollo Launch

The price was right – free.

On December 3, 1972 many of the leading sf writers, artists, and scientists of their generation boarded Holland America’s cruise ship SS Statendam to view the launch of Apollo 17 and to discuss the future of space travel. This would be the last manned mission to the Moon — the rest of the Apollo series had been cancelled — but it was still too early for so many optimists to internalize that America was entering the doldrums of manned space exploration.

A documentary of the cruise, Voyage Beyond Apollo, was recently posted on YouTube.

Some of the most interesting figures on board were Isaac Asimov, the only two people Asimov would admit were more intelligent than he was, Carl Sagan and AI specialist Marvin Minsky, plus Richard Hoagland, Ben Bova, poet Berguet Roberts, artists Rick Sternbach and Don Davis, Harry Stine, Robert Heinlein, Frederik Pohl, Theodore Sturgeon, Fred Ordway, rocket designer and space visionary Krafft Ehricke, SETI pioneer and director of the Arecibo Observatory Frank Drake, and physicist Robert Enzmann. They were joined by a sprinkling of other comped celebrities – Norman Mailer and Katherine Anne Porter among them. All that was really missing were — paying passengers.

In the first of several posts he wrote about the cruise for The Way The Future Blogs,“The Ship of Foolishness, Part 1: The Foreplay”, Frederik Pohl said the three men who organized the cruise were an astronaut, a communications genius who used to work with Walter Cronkite, and a highly respected scientist, but 40 years having passed by the time he penned these memories Pohl decided the organizers deserved anonymity. He just called them “Jim, Joe and Jack.”

The trio knew a lot of people would like to view an Apollo launch, and had experienced what a pain it was to drive down to the Cape, book a hotel, and find parking near the site. One had an inspiration.

“Hey, what about watching it from a cruise ship anchored just offshore?”

And another one, maybe Jim, said, “Great idea! And, listen, if you really wanted to do it, maybe you could get a bunch of people like us to give lectures on the ship in exchange for free tickets.” And somebody, possibly Joe, said, “Why the dickens don’t we just go ahead and do it?”

They did. They talked to Holland America line (my own personal first choice among cruise companies), who loved the idea, only they wanted to make a real cruise out of it, with visits to four or five gorgeous tropical islands. Then they got busy compiling a guest list of leading science-fiction writers and assorted celebrities to attract hoi polloi. To all of which Holland America responded with approval and encouragement, and did they have any other ideas like that?

They invited Pohl and filled him in on who else would be there.

Things were going splendidly, they said. They had been working the invitation list. Robert Heinlein was coming, and Ted Sturgeon and Isaac Asimov and at least a dozen other top science-fiction writers, said Joe. And other celebrities, too, Jack added, people like Carl Sagan and Norman Mailer and Katherine Anne Porter, whose 1962 novel Ship of Fools had created a stir in the world of publishing (an invitation which produced quite a lot of joking from Jim and Joe when Jack mentioned the title).

“And,” Joe put in, giving me a grin, “of course everybody brings his wife or husband or main squeeze. And we’re all comped, for the whole cruise, courtesy of Holland America. In your case, Fred, you don’t even have to worry about air fare, because you live near New York and that’s where this cruise starts and finishes.”

…I don’t actually know what these follies cost Holland America. A figure I have heard mentioned was half a million 1972 American dollars. Jim, Joe and Jack might have been able to give a more precise figure, but we couldn’t ask them.

They hadn’t come aboard.

According to Up Ship, Katherine Anne Porter’s biographer reports only 100 people in total paid for the cruise. There were only 40 “premium tickets” sold for the conference itself. It seems that staggeringly few people wanted to pay the $400 for the conference on top of the $400-$900 for the cruise.

Of course, the guests had no need to think about that, they were there to have a good time, and in “The Ship of Foolishness, Part 2” Pohl assures everyone they did.

Well, enough of telling you about experiences you can’t have. Simply imagine that you’re at the best con you’ve ever attended, only it’s with fewer people than usual and it runs twice as long. And it takes place not in a hotel in some strange city but on board of some twenty thousand tons of steel that is chugging through blue waters under balmy skies. Put them together with a host of entertaining companions available on what is almost a twenty-four hour schedule, and you’ve got the picture.

The titles of the talks presented at the on-board conference are listed in Up Ship’s article about the cruise titled “The Conference That Vanished”.

CORNUCOPIA OF SPACE (1st seminar 6th December)

Bruce Hunt: Co-Chairman

Donald Banks: Co-Chairman

  • Isaac Asimov: What is a Cornucopia
  • Norman Mailer: Is there a Cornucopia out there?
  • Pandora Duncan: Planetary rover designs
  • Robert D Enzmann: Out of the Cornucopia
  • Richard Hoagland: The Space Shuttle
  • Ben Bova: Expanding the Cornucopia
  • Berguet Roberts: Last Lunar Flight Dreams


Krafft Ehricke: Co-Chairman Extraterrestrial Industries

Kenneth Franklin: Co-Chairman

  • Eric Burgess: Emerging Conscience of Man
  • Roger Caras: Earth the Teacher, Lessons learned from out 1st planet
  • Isaac Asimov: A heirarchy of niches from comets to Earthlike planets
  • Neil Ruzic: Development of the moon as a niche
  • Richard Sternbach: Experiment that failed
  • Don Davis: Paintings: Clones


Roger Caras: Co-chairman

Harry Stine: Co-chairman The Third industrial Revolution

  • Robert Heinlein: Genetic fitness, Social fitness, training & technology and communications Marvin Minsky: Artificial intelligence
  • Sarah Meltzoff: Universals, Cultural viability, economic specialization
  • Janet Jepperson: Psychological barriers to full realization
  • Linda Sagan: Comment: Ultimate Machines
  • Krafft Ehricke: Comment: Ultimate Machines


Donald Banks: Co-Chairman Energy

Ben Bova: Co-Chairman

  • Werner Rambauske: Observation of the Universe
  • Brude hunt: Propulsion
  • Robin Anderson: Plowshare: Big guns for the benefit of the people
  • Fred Pohl: The shape of shadows from the future
  • Carl Sagan: Interstellar probes and Pioneer 10
  • Neil Ruzic: Human acquisition of Moon and its effects on war and peace


Gillet Griffin: Co-chairman

  • Eric Burgess: of Mankind but no longer Men
  • Cassandra Boell: Space states and the howling of beasts
  • Harry Stine: Comment: Ultimate Machine
  • Robert D. Enzmann: Statement of grand design, & galactic fertile crescent
  • Robert Heinlein: The grand design
  • Theodore Sturgeon: Communications, The Cold Equations, and the grand design
  • Fred Pohl: Star flight and relativistic twins “lost in space”
  • Fred Ordway: Use of satellite systems for education
  • Marvin Minsky: Artificial intelligence and the grand design, have we nurtured “The Descent of Machines?”
  • Richard Sternbach: Paintings: Mankinds’ grand design


Neil Ruzic: Co-chairman

Eric Burgess: Co-chairman

  • Donald Burgy: Order theory: an art exhibit in the clipper room
  • Gillett Griffin: Migrations of men and their art
  • Isaac Asimov: stellar types and organic evolution
  • Robert D Enzmann: Force= dp/dt (F=/ma) and e=hv(1-d/D) That is an intellectual revolution
  • Ben Bova: galaxies and quasars
  • Norman Mailer: Revolutionaries of science and technology
  • Donald Davis: Paintings: Cupules and stick charts

Asimov told what it was like to witness the launch of Apollo 17 in his column for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, saying he —

… watched Apollo 17 rise into the air like the biggest firefly in creation. It lit the sky from horizon to horizon, turning the ocean an orange-grey and the sky into an inverted copper bowl from which the stars were blanked out.”

Slowly it rose on its tail of fire, and it was well up in the sky before the first shaking rumble reached us some forty seconds after ignition and shook us savagely.

Mankind was making its attempt to reach the moon a sixth time and place and eleventh and twelfth man upon it. It was the last launching of the Apollo series (and the only night launching, hence incredibly spectacular, and I was delighted to see it). It may be decades before mankind returns to the task – after establishing a space station that would make it possible to reach the Moon more easily, more economically, and more elaborately.

Pohl, in “The Ship of Foolishness, Part 3: Apollo 17”, wrote:

We saw something flaring around the base of the rocket. Then that whole precarious stack of thrusters and capsules began to ease itself upward.

We all blinked and squinted as the five great rocket nozzles on the Saturn 5 savaged our eyes with the five blinding supernovas of hydrogen burning in air. The blinding flames began moving upward with the rest of the train, slowly at first, then picking up speed. Everything moved straight up together until the thrusters were level with the little bridge the astronauts had walked on, then higher and clear of the launch tower entirely.

And then at last the sound of those five Saturn rockets reached us, over beach and water, from far away, but still making the ship’s lighting fixtures rattle and our ears hurt. Now the entire construct was overhead, the hydrogen fire stretching down toward us, but far away and getting rapidly farther. Now the departing assembly of space-going parts was vertically over our heads.

Every head was craned back, every face aimed at the spectacle above. I turned around to look at my companions behind me. There were the upturned faces of Bob Heinlein and Isaac and Ted Sturgeon and others, clustered like blossoms in a flower-shop bouquet, starkly lit by that super-sun that was sliding across the sky above them. I could have kicked myself, angry at my dimwitted absence of forethought for failing to stick a camera in my pocket to capture a shot of those faces in that wondrous light.

Others’ attempts to put their experience into words are quoted in Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Spaceflight by Chris Dubbs and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom.

For space artist Rick Sternbach, the launch was all about visual images and color, “the repeating shockwaves off rocket, the blowtorch yellow-orange glow around the vehicle, the smoke and steam streaming away in every direction.” He had witnessed the daytime launches of Apollo 11 and Apollo 13, but this was an altogether different experience.

After the launch, the ship’s many bars filled with celebration and discussion. Ehricke estimated to a gathered crowd that the brightness of the night launch was about that of five hundred full moons. “Incomparably beautiful,” Robert Heinlein termed it. For Norman Mailer, “It was the one time when I wanted instant replay.” Eighty-two-year-old novelist Katherine Anne Porter, on assignment to cover the launch for Playboy magazine, never expected to witness anything like it in her life. “I came out of a world so primitive you can scarcely imagine it,” she said. “We barely had gaslight in New Orleans when I was a girl. When I saw them take off, I wanted with all my soul to be going with them.”

Fresh from his own rounds of celebration, Richard Hoagland commandeered the ship’s public address system to announce that “due to a lack of interest, tomorrow has been canceled” —as though the launch were so singular an event that all else lost meaning in its wake. The comment might have served as a final epitaph for the extraordinary Apollo program, except that the Statendam passengers had gathered precisely to consider “tomorrow” and how to fill its possibilities.

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus for the story.]

That Great 1970s Fandom Photo Archive

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.

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.

By James H. Burns: I just discovered an extraordinary archive posted by Patrick Daniel O’Neill over at Facebook, with HUNDREDS of convention shots from the 1970s (and a bit beyond), of many of the folks who helped run the original classic New York STAR TREK conventions (many of whom were also involved with the era’s Lunacons, and other get-togethers). You’ll see Thom Anderson, Stu Hellinger, Elyse Rosenstein, Dana L.F. Anderson, Joan Winston, Devra Langsam, Joyce Yasner, Linda Deneroff, Dave Simons, Val Sussman, Steve Rosenstein…  And many more!  (Often in the environs of the great, erstwhile, Commoodore Hotel!)

Fandom Archive

Fandom Archive 2

[Editor’s Note: These albums are on Facebook. Don’t know if you can see them without registering.]

We Interrupt This Program

By Bill Higgins: I’ve learned that an old BBC documentary on Seacon, the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton, is available on Youtube. Dave Nee told Tom Whitmore about it, and Tom posted a link to Making Light, here.

The program itself, an episode of Time Out of Mind, is here.

Let the games begin! On Making Light, Jacque Marshall, P. J. Evans, and Tom Whitmore have been identifying the many pros and fans who appear in the 25-minute video. Any number can play.

Editor’s note: Wow — Gregory Benford is like the second pro shown in the video — at about 2:00.


Ned Brooks recently brought the quasiquote to the attention of the Shady Characters blog (about “The secret life of punctuation”) .

Thanks to Brooks, Shady Characters featured scans of two original definitions as they first appeared in mimeographed copies of Speer’s 1944 Fancyclopedia and Tucker’s 1956 Neofan’s Guide.

Jack Speer originally called them quasi-quotemarks:

It frequently is impossible or inconvenient to quote a speaker’s exact word, and not vital to do so. In such a case, you may merely give the substance of what he said, and in place of quotation mark, use quote-marks with a hyphen under each like this instead of qualifying the quotation with a clumsy phrase like “or words to that effect”. Such quasi-quotemarks indicate that you will be answerable for the substantial meaning and implications of the quotation, but either do not have the exact wording available, or have rearranged the construction and wording of the original statement to fit conveniently into your sentence structure. Examples: “but, Every intensely active fan I know of is some kind of disgusting character, says Miske.” “He said he had just been too busy.” (In the first example, Miske’s wording was, “I know of no fan who ranks as ‘intensely active’ who is not some sort of disgusting character.” In the second, “have” in the original has been changed to had).

Author Keith Houston agreed they are useful —

They certainly have a neatly unambiguous function that is not already fulfilled by any other mark of punctuation; writers have been paraphrasing quotations since time immemorial, but either they do not trouble to tell their readers or they signpost their words with exculpatory statements such as “in other words”, or “words to that effect”. And unlike some novel marks of punctuation… the quasiquote is not offensively weird to the eye.

As for myself, I was surprised to discover that what had become a secondary use of quasiquotes by the time I encountered them was once their exclusive purpose. By 1970 they had evolved into something besides an “honest summary.”

I first saw them used in LASFS’ Apa-L, where quasiquotes were often presented as a satirical de-coding of a person’s real meaning. A writer used quasiquotes when mockingly putting words in someone else’s mouth that were more candid but less socially acceptable than what he or she had written, usually done in a kidding manner. I’m now wondering if that innovation was unique to LASFS or spread throughout fandom.

As further explanation I’m tempted to compare how quasiquotes were used in Apa-L with the internet’s “Fixed That For You,” however, online sources don’t all agree what that expression means. It’s at moments like this telepathy would be convenient.

Full Suncon Hugo Ceremony Online

As reported here the other day, people have been working to repair and digitize Debbie King’s two audio tapes of the Suncon (1977) Worldcon Hugo Ceremony.

Now that Hobbit from Techno-Fandom has repaired the first tape, the contents of both are available online:



[Via Michael Kerpan.]

Asimov Still Holds The Record

This weekend’s Nebula ceremony kerfuffle sent ripples in all directions. Even though SFWA President Steven Gould resolved it within hours, on Facebook a few hours is the internet equivalent of dog years, more than enough time for people to replay every gaffe and grievance that ever happened at a Nebula Weekend.

However, nothing can rival Isaac Asimov’s ghastly mistake at the 1971 Nebula Awards ceremony. Nor has any other gaffe worked out better for the injured party in the long run.

Les Champs matchbook coverOn Saturday, April 3, 1971 the leading science fiction professionals were seated around banquet tables in New York’s Les Champs Restaurant watching Asimov hand out the Nebulas.

Asimov had been pressed into service at the last minute. While that was not a problem for anyone who loved an audience as much as the Good Doctor, it meant that he had little time to study the handwritten list of results. In those days the emcee was not only given the names of the winners, but the names of the runners-up, which he also announced.

When Asimov came to the Short Story category his eyes slipped over “No Award” and he read the first real name on the list — which was Gene Wolfe, author of “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories.”

As Wolfe stood up a SFWA officer promptly whispered a correction to Asimov. Asimov went pale and announced he’d made an error. There was “No Award” in the Short Story category. Wolfe sat back down.

Eyewitness Harlan Ellison (writing in Again Dangeous Visions) says everyone felt awful –

Around him everyone felt the rollercoaster nausea of stomachs dropping out of backsides. Had it been me, I would have fainted or screamed or punched Norbert Slepyan of Scribner’s, who was sitting next to me. Gene Wolfe just smiled faintly and tried to make us all feel at ease by a shrug and a gentle nod of his head.

Fortunately, the mistake was eventually redeemed. As the author explained:

A month or so after the banquet I was talking to Joe Hensley, and he joked that I should write “The Death of Doctor Island,” saying that everyone felt so sorry for me that it was sure to win. I thought about that when I got home and decided to try, turning things inside out to achieve a different story.

He did, and his novella “The Death of Doctor Island” won a Nebula in 1974.

Wolfe adds:

After that a hundred readers or so challenged me to write “The Doctor of Death Island.”

Which he also did. The story appeared in Immortal, Jack Dann’s 1978 anthology. (Though no Nebula that year.)

IslandOfDoctorDeathBefore long these stories were gathered in The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (1980), that delightfully-named collection of Wolfe’s best short fiction.

Nor was he done. Gene Wolfe would write a fourth iteration – “Death of the Island Doctor” – to be packaged with the previous “Island” stories for a specialty edition, The Wolfe Archipelago (1983).

In the end, oyster-like, Gene took a little irritant and turned it into a string of pearls…

Shaver Photos No Longer Mystery, Now Art

For Amazing Stories editor Ray Palmer the Shaver Mystery was a way to keep the cash register ringing in the mid-1940s, while many fans felt it threatened to trigger a backlash against the marginally-respectable science fiction field. Nick Redfern capsulized the stories for Mysterious Galaxy:

The Shaver Mystery had its origins at the height of the Second World War. It was a relatively normal day in 1943 when Palmer was opening the daily delivery of mail that regularly poured into the offices of Amazing Stories, and came across one particular missive penned by a certain Richard Shaver. And weird barely begins to describe it. Shaver wrote that he, personally, had uncovered a sensational and terrifying secret: in our distant past a race of ancient, highly-evolved entities lived right under our very feet. Massive caverns, huge caves, and near-endless tunnels, were the dark, damp places they called home.

At least, that is, before they decided to exit the Earth and headed away to a whole new, light-years away world on the other side of the galaxy. But, when these particular entities said their final goodbyes to our planet, they left behind them something truly sinister and abominable: their diseased offspring, which were said to be called the Deros.

Many fans were offended that these stories were represented to be based in reality, others worried that their growing cultic popularity would taint them by association. Harry Warner recalled in All Our Yesterdays

Fans were already in insurrection against the Shaver stories by the summer of 1945, both because they were so sensationally publicized that they threatened to come to public attention as examples of the finest science fiction, and because of the insinuations that they were dramatically presented fragments of a great truth. Tom Gardner cited the scientific absurdity of the elders moving to a larger, denser planet when they sought a new residence because of an increase in their size. He found the voices and imaginary events in early Shaveriana too similar to schizophrenic phenomena to make good reading. “From just a publicity stunt, this hoax is rapidly becoming psychopathic,” he wrote in Fantasy Commentator. “Were public opinion to crystallize against the Lemuria-Mu bunk in Amazing Stories, it might spread to a denunciation of the better fantasy publications as well. And a blanket ban of this entire segment of the pulp field would not be out of the question.”

By the time I became active in fandom in the early 1970s the Shaver Mystery was a little-discussed toxic memory – briefly given fresh currency among the readers of Donn Brazier’s Title, because Donn would stoke discussion by reaching out to exiled sf figures such as Richard Shaver and Frederick Wertham (author of the anti-comics study Seduction of the Innocents), whose controversies were fresh meat for many of Donn’s readers (like me) who had just been in fandom a few years. 

Now, with the passage of time, Shaver has transmuted from threat to trivia answer to historically significant photographic artist. One of his photos is currently part of an exhibition in New York. According to the article at Hyperallergic.com, “The Sci-Fi Writer Who Used Photography to Search for Ancient Aliens” —

Near the end of his life in 1975, Shaver was living in Arkansas and wandering the terrain with an eye for “rock books.” These stones he believed to be tablets with information on the people of Atlantis that came before our current humanity, and he sliced them open to reveal their secrets, which he captured in photographs. One of these photos is currently part of the Morgan Library and Museum’s A Collective Invention: Photographs at Play that opened last month. This is the Morgan’s first exhibition organized by the museum’s new photography department and includes 80 works that connect in some way, with Shaver’s curious capture of a rock positioned quietly in a corner accompanied by his written explanation of the extraordinary origins in which he so fiercely believed.

A Collective Invention: Photographs at Play is on view at the Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue, Midtown East, Manhattan) through May 18.

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