Ann Methe Passes Away

Montreal fan Ann Methe succumbed to cancer October 5. 

Leading Canadian sf writer Robert J. Sawyer saluted her on Twitter as “one of Canada’s great science-fiction convention runners.”

Methe was past chair of Con*Cept, formerly run by the MonSFFA. She won an Aurora Award in 1999 for her work on Con*Cept and was nominated two other times.

She also worked on the 2009 Montreal Worldcon, Anticipation, as a hotel liaison.

She is survived by her husband, artist Jean-Pierre Normand.

[Thanks to Diane Lacey for the story.]

Two Days Left in Bradbury Auction

A little over two days remain on the Nate D. Sanders auction of the Bradbury estate.

Everyone seems to find something appealing in the catalog, and not what one might expect. There have been three bids on a brick from the home of Edgar Allan Poe that Bradbury owned, the latest for $1,183.

At this hour the bidding on Ray Bradbury’s Retro Hugo is up to $7,321.

Yet there have been no bids on the plaque given Bradbury when he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Of course, that may be because they want $15,000 for it.)

The Guardian’s Alison Flood wrote an entire article about George Bernard Shaw’s spade, once owned by the man Bradbury called “the greatest playwright of our century.”

Bradbury, a lifelong fan of Shaw’s, was given the spade as a Christmas present. Shaw had used the tool to plant a mulberry tree on his 80th birthday, in 1936. In the lengthy, unpublished poem, titled GBS and the Spade, Bradbury wrote of how, holding it, he could feel the Nobel laureate’s influence:

I hold the dear spade in my hands,
Its vibrant lightnings strike and move along my arms,
The ghost of Shaw climbs up through me
I feel a fiery brambling of chin
I feel my spine
Stand straight as if a lightning bolt had struck
His old voice whispers in my ear, dear boy
Find Troy, go on, dig deep, find Troy, find Troy!

Dean Ellis Illustrated Man COMPA sterling silver tray Bradbury was given when he was GoH of the 1986 Worldcon currently has a top bid of $500.

And the item I’d be most interested in owning, the Dean Ellis painting published as the cover of The Illustrated Man, has attracted 13 bids. At the moment it’s going for $27,583.

Sasquan Housing Opens

Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, started taking hotel bookings today and a friend of mine trying to get into the Doubletree, closest to the convention center, found it is already unavailable. Anecdotal evidence is that the Doubletree filled almost immediately.

Update 09/16/2014: See Kevin Standlee’s comment. It is possible to reserve the Doubletree August 20-22. He suggests doing so, then requesting the Housing Bureau to add the earlier and later nights you want. I have gotten as far as successfully reserving the middle nights online.

2015 Worldcon Housing Available 9/16

Sasquan logoMembers of Sasqan, the 2015 Worldcon, will be able to make hotel reservations using a link on the website on September 16 at 8 a.m. (Pacific).

Sasquan advises fans who wish to host a party to first make a reservation, then send the confirmation number to with a request for party space (including the date of the party.)

Fans who wish to get a suite should first make a reservation, then send the confirmation number to with their request. Party and non-party suites are available.

Full details are in the press release following the jump.

Continue reading

Bradbury Estate Auction Begins Online

Charles Addams painting done in 1946.

Charles Addams painting done in 1946.

The Ray Bradbury estate auction has gone live on the Nate D. Sanders Fine Autographs & Memorabilia site – see the full catalog here. It includes paintings by Charles Addams and Hannes Bok that hung on Bradbury’s walls and items from his collections of Disney animation cels, comic strips and original illustration art. The auction continues until September 25

The minimum bid on the Charles Addams signed painting is $32,500:

”Addams Family” cartoonist and creator Charles Addams original 1946 painting personally owned by Ray Bradbury. True to Addams’ whimsical and macabre tone, painting depicts a landscape scene at twilight with a Gothic mansion overlooking a shore, and with ghoulish creatures and spirits ascending towards the house. Signed, ”Chas Adams” at upper right. Mixed media on illustration board was selected to be the cover image for Bradbury’s book, ”From the Dust Returned”, which was released in 2001. Painting measures 17” x 12” and is matted and framed to an overall size of 24” x 19”.

They’re asking at least $6,000 for the iconic Dean Ellis painting commissioned for the cover of The Illustrated Man published by Bantam Books in 1969.

Dean Ellis Illustrated Man COMP

Ray Bradbury's 2004 Retro Hugo for Fahrenheit 451.

Ray Bradbury’s 2004 Retro Hugo for Fahrenheit 451.

The Retro Hugo Award that Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 won at the 2004 Worldcon could be yours for $5,000 (if nobody bids higher). That might be a reasonable asking price — Harry Warner Jr.’s Hugo went for $2,000 at auction in 2012. The association of this Hugo with a more famous winner ought to drive up the value.

Hugo Award presented to Ray Bradbury at Noreascon 4, the 62nd World Science Fiction Convention in 2004. Trophy honors the great author as part of the Retrospective Awards in the category of Best Novel for ”Fahrenheit 451”. Iconic sci-fi trophy features a sleek figural metal sculpture of a rocket pointing skyward, mounted to a wooden base with the information plaque affixed to one of the three sides. The other two sides are studded with rings of 13 stars. To the underside, the name of the trophy’s designer, Patrick J. O’Connor is engraved. Measures 17” in total height; base sides each measure 7”.

(In contrast the minimum bid for his Saturn Award is $500 – hear, hear!)

The hundreds of items of art going under the hammer include works by Joseph Mungiani, Hannes Bok,Milton Caniff, Al Capp, Ron Cobb — and Joseph Lane’s portrait of Bradbury from the Hollywood Brown Derby.

Bradbury receives autographed "Ice Cream Suit."

Bradbury receives autographed “Ice Cream Suit.”

Plus all the minutiae accumulated throughout his life — handwritten poems and doodles, Bradbury’s annotated copy of the 1977 Academy Award script, and checks he signed in 1960. There are two unopened bottles of French wine from the same vineyard, vintage 1945 and 1946. Furniture, lamps, silverware. Even his personally-owned Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, autographed by the cast. (I ran of photo of his receiving that just a couple weeks ago.)

Medusa Harryhausen 47916_med

One final hidden gem is this Medusa Mask:

Ray Bradbury personally owned Medusa mask. Rubber cowl features a hideously delightful green textured face with pointy teeth and a wide-eyed, open-mouthed expression. Snakes emanate from the head in conformity with the myth. Possibly a movie prop from the 1981 film ”Clash of the Titans”. Measures 11” x 13” x 9”. Near fine. With a COA from the Ray Bradbury estate.

It was indeed made by Ray Harryhausen (though the catalog doesn’t say so), and once sat on top of the refrigerator in Bradbury’s Palm Springs home according to John King Tarpinian.

Gosh It All To Hecksinki in 2017

Crystal Huff shared this link to the most recent “Finnish educational video” by the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid.

Eemeli and Saija Aro’s children, Lumi and Papu, teach viewers some key Finnish cuss words.

Anybody ready to swear a mighty oath to vote for the bid now will have the vocabulary to do it.

“I am now trying to learn how to say ‘oh, poopnuggets!’ in Finnish,” says Crystal.

I bet that’s something Rosetta Stone doesn’t teach…

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Monday at Noreascon 3 (1989)

Kelly Freas

Kelly Freas

Monday, September 4, 1989 at Noreascon Three. Final installment of my reminiscences about the once-in-a-generation convention that took place 25 years ago this week.

This is really only a postscript. My work schedule made it necessary for me to fly home and miss the last day of Noreascon 3. Yet luck was with me. I still picked up a good story while waiting for the plane.

Rainy Days and Mondays: With a cup of coffee in front of me I might have been any commuter, but Laura and Kelly Freas hesitated, decided they knew a Hugo when they saw one, and joined me at my table beside the jetway snack stand. Once Kelly recovered from Laura’s discovery that the stand wasn’t licensed to sell any of the beer visible in a refrigerated display case until 8:00 a.m., and in fact was doing a land office business in muffins, he and I traded pleasantries about the Hugos.

Kelly remembered being offended by the shoddy 1970 Hugo base given at Heidelberg (“looked like scraps from someone’s barn door”), inexplicably bad woodwork from the country famed for Black Forest cuckoo clocks. When Freas got home he chucked the committee’s base and made his own. Bruce Pelz later told me – the 1970 Hugo bases truly were cobbled together from an old barn door by Mario Bosnyak when the real bases failed to arrive.

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov’s Speech at Noreascon Three: Over a thousand fans attended the featured event on Monday’s program, a speech by Isaac Asimov. Edward F. Roe sent me an account of what I missed. Here are some choice paragraphs from his report.

By Edward F. Roe: Asimov was asked to write a sequel to his Foundation Trilogy 30 years after its first publication. In the words of one of his critics, “nothing happens” in an Asimov story. “Nothing happens” means that no one gets killed, raped, or blows up the galaxy. When Isaac re-read the Foundation Series he commented, “You know, that guy was right. Nothing happens.” Asimov’s prose employs dialog heavily, and what the people say is interesting. Asimov went to the publisher and said he couldn’t write a sequel. The publisher took the time and explained it very nicely. He said get out of here, go home and write!

Asimov states that only people over 65 years old understand the Great Depression. To him it was the greatest disaster in human history not involving war or plague. It left him with a deep sense of insecurity. His family owned a candy store and he worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for school. It was impressed on Asimov that this was a normal work week, a habit he maintains to this day. He feels insecure when he is not working. He said, “Mentally I’m still imprisoned in that candy store.” Even though he has written many hundreds of books he still feels he has many books yet to write. He said that his dying thought will be, “Only six hundred?”

And with that Noreascon Three went into the history books as one of the best Worldcons ever. For most of the 6,837 members it was all over…except for the many volunteers who stayed to take apart the art show hangings, cart away the exhibits, roll up Warp Drive and Alice Way, and do the thousand-and-one other jobs involved in winding down a Worldcon. Even they were soon on their way out the door like everyone else, richer in memories and anticipating the new friendships they’d make next year in Holland.

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Sunday at Noreascon 3 (1989)

Kirby Bartlett-Sloan and Chris Barkley in the daily newzine office at Noreascon 3.

Kirby Bartlett-Sloan and Chris Barkley in the daily newzine office at Noreascon 3.

Sunday, September 3, 1989 at Noreascon Three. Fifth installment of my reminiscences about the once-in-a-generation convention that took place 25 years ago this week.

Sunday In The Park With George: As I set up the Fanzine Sales table Sunday morning in the ConCourse a bearded fan sauntered past with his hands clasped behind him and his chin thrust out, loudly whistling assorted birdcalls. I lost sight of him behind a virtual tree in Jekyll Park.

Tony Ubelhor and I were at the table after the Sunday Brunch when an unfamiliar fan sidled up to the exhibit, standing half hidden by a pillar by the corner table. “Is SF Randomly still being published?” he asked nervously. We said yes, pointing at the issues for sale. With prodding the fan explained, “I was supposed to send them an article, but I haven’t done it. Are the editors around?” We told him they had been here and would be back soon – but showing all the disappointment of someone who was out when the collection agency called he slipped back into the crowd and was not seen again.

When Steve Antczak, editor of SF Randomly, returned Tony couldn’t resist yanking his chain. “Some Arizona fan asked us if SF Randomly was still publishing. We didn’t have the heart to tell him it folded.” Antczak yelped excitedly, “We’re still publishing!”

Martin Morse Wooster came by the table after his “lightning inspection” of the Moscow in ’95 bid party. Moscow, as in Russia, Red Square and Gorby, is Michael Sinclair’s brainchild. They had flyers all over the convention. Wooster said he found nobody from the ostensible committee at the party. Martin pieced together the rumors. “Apparently when asked Intourist said ‘Swell’ and the mayor of Moscow said ‘We need the cash.’ They haven’t talked to any Soviet writers and publishers.” Wooster smiled his Evil Commissar smile and in a bad accent said of fans who might go to a Moscow Worldcon, “These are rich people – they deserve the best!”

Say Da to Moscow bid passport.

Say Da to Moscow bid passport.

To attract presupporters Moscow in ’95 gave each a mock Soviet passport with red cover and gray pages divided to make room for the rubber-stamped visas Sinclair would enter at each convention where they held a bidding party. If the “Say Da” bid were merely an excuse to throw parties it wouldn’t have merited so much attention, but I remembered how the Bermuda Triangle in ’88 bidders encouraged people’s assumption they were joking until the committee found enough support to permit them to take the wraps off their serious ambition to run a cruise ship Worldcon. Afterwards they laughed their way to a second-place Site Selection finish in a field of four.

At 2:30 Sunday afternoon the ARA snackbar was overflowing with burger smoke sufficient to fill its corner of Hall C and begin to drift through the hall. It was like having an exhibit behind a bus. Rick Foss accused Seth Breidbart of arranging a barbecue in an enclosed room with smoke alarms, but Seth denied it was part of the Hoax Division program. We nervously observed that no alarms had been triggered by the dense pall of smoke. Theresa Renner added her ironic appreciation, “As a vegetarian, if there’s one thing I really like it’s being in a room full of burning animal fat.”

Maia Cowan came by wearing the best button seen at Noreascon Three: “HELLO – MY NAME IS BATMAN. YOU KILLED MY FATHER. PREPARE TO DIE.”

WSFS Business Meeting: Business meeting chairman Don Eastlake III lightened the usually pompous tone of the Business Meeting by appointing as his Sergeant-at-Arms a real sergeant. Standing in uniform astride the center aisle was Staff Sergeant Theresa Renner, librarian of the US Marine Band. Theresa wielded her mace, explaining the mace is always symbolic and never used…then set the can of spice on the chair next to her. When a passing smof threw Theresa a salute, Joe Rico prompted, “Tell him not to salute you – you work for a living.”

At Saturday’s Main Business Meeting the 120 or so fans present were given a lot of individual items to deal with, but tended to dispose of them rather expeditiously with the guidance of Eastlake and his timekeeper Rick Katze.

Three amendments to the WSFS Constitution passed by NOLAcon II were presented for ratification by Noreascon Three members. The voters rejected an expanded definition of WSFS membership. They defeated the rule which would have prevented a North American Worldcon Zone from being passed over successively (as the Western zone was in 1987 and 1990). They approved the technical language expressing the term of office for members of the Mark Registration Committee.

New amendments fared poorly. Two new Hugo categories were promptly disposed of, known in shorthand as the “otherwise ineligible materials” Hugo, and the “Worldcon rescuers” Hugo. Also failing was the proposal to expand the existing Best Nonfiction Hugo to cover “science or natural philosophy” as well as science fiction, inspired by Noreascon’s decision not to allow Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time as a nominee. A motion to extend the lead time for Site Selection voting from three to four years failed 55-63.

Advocates like Mike Wallis were disappointed that the proposed changes to the Best Professional Artist Hugo were not enacted. Nor were they rejected, but the amendment was downgraded to a resolution and Jo Thomas’ offer to run the new category as the one-shot Hugo 1990’s ConFiction is permitted by the constitution could have clashed with other plans of the Dutch committee. The original scheme would have replaced Best Pro Artist with three Hugos for Best Book Cover, Best Magazine Cover and Best Interior Illustration. Some fans persisted in searching for a nonexistent role for convention art show entries in this amendment, helping to cloud the issue.

Don Eastlake committed the blooper of the weekend while trying to explain NASFiC by-mail voting procedures when he uttered, “…at that point the ballots are fixed…” The Business Meeting howled at this bit of in-humor.

The Mark Registration Committee terms of Bruce Pelz, Fran Skene and Tim Illingworth expired this year. They ran against Martin Hoare, Craig Miller and Bruce Farr. All incumbents were re-elected.

Orlando in '92 bid table at Noreascon 3. Tony Parker (left), Melanie Herz (right), Dan Siclari reading a flyer. Photo by Phylis Brown from site.

Orlando in ’92 bid table at Noreascon 3. Tony Parker (left), Melanie Herz (right), Dan Siclari reading a flyer. Photo by Phylis Brown from site.

The Sunday Business Meeting announced the Site Selection results – letting the cat out of the cellophane bag.

Orlando having finished the race uncontested, when Joe Siclari came up to announce MagiCon’s information there was a momentary sense of anticlimax before parliamentarian Kent Bloom gave the cue for a last bit of business by the DC in ’92 committee. Bloom, a member of the withdrawn DC bid, looked down from the dais and said with a big smile, “We would like to formally tender our surrender.”

DC in '92 Worldcon bid card.

DC in ’92 Worldcon bid card.

At the same time Robert J. McIntyre, on bended knee, presented Siclari with some triangular-folded red, white and blue bunting salvaged from the Republican convention in New Orleans that had decorated DC parties. Shutterbugs made them re-enact the moment quite as the Marine flag-raising at Iwo Jima was restaged for photographers.

Sunday was also “question time” for representatives of next year’s Worldcon, ConFiction in The Hague. Someone asked about progress report delivery problems. A NESFAn who’d helped mail the Dutch PRs, which arrived as a bulk shipment at Logan Airport, said some of the packages were received waterstained: “I can’t imagine how that happened on an airplane, and I don’t want to think about it.”

A favorite activity in the fanzine exhibit was to rub the top of the display case to make the pages jump up and adhere to the plastic due to static electricity. Photo by Kirby Bartlett-Sloan.

A favorite activity in the fanzine exhibit was to rub the plastic top of the display case to make the pages jump up and adhere to the plastic due to static electricity. Photo by Kirby Bartlett-Sloan.

The Masquerade: Noreascon’s Masquerade emcee was the feisty Pat Kennedy. Among his announcements he said, “We have no smoking. If I can quit, you can quit.”

There were 55 entries in the masquerade. The panel of judges was Mike Symes, D. Jeanette Holloman, Patricia Mercier Gill, Janet Wilson Anderson and Ann Layman Chancellor. Workmanship judge was Peggy Kennedy.

Some of the humorous entries are most prominent in memory. “The Gravity Research Institute” came on stage about eight strong wearing utilityman’s orange coveralls draped with elaborate electronic apparatus and carrying tricorders and other gadgets. One of the party dropped a yellow-striped brick on the ground. The researchers stared significantly as it struck the stage and rolled over, scribbed notes, and hurried on to their next test.

Darth Vagrant in Noreascon 3 Masquerade. Photo by Gordon McGregor.

Darth Vagrant in Noreascon 3 Masquerade. Photo by Gordon McGregor.

Darth Vagrant lumbered on stage to the Empire Strikes Back theme, black helmeted but carrying a Hefty bag. When the music changed to the Batman theme, though, he plucked off his helmet to reveal the purple cowl beneath, and ran offstage to fight crime.

Takayana, the Costumer from Hell, wore clashing colors and examples of every masquerade cliché, one leg in gartered stocking, a green fur hindleg, a sequined ruff, a wig and so on.

The “Mermaid With A Vengeance” was said to be “seeking diplomatic exchange” with the Exxon Corporation: she balanced on her green tail, brandishing a bow and arrow.

Best In Show went to Deborah K. Jones’ “Dread Warrior,” inspired by the ceramic sculpture “Streamline Robot” by Toby Buonagurio.

The Cult apa séance at Noreascon 3. L-R: KT Fitzsimmons, Elst Weinstein, (?), Rich Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Kathleen Meyer, Kirby Bartlett-Sloan (on floor to right). (It was really just a party, but that's what they called it.)

The Cult apa séance at Noreascon 3. L-R: KT Fitzsimmons, Elst Weinstein, (?), Rich Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Kathleen Meyer, Kirby Bartlett-Sloan (on floor to right). (Don’t tell anybody it was really only a room party.)

The 1989 Hogu Ranquet: Considering the Ranquet is virtually always held at a local McDonald’s – which this year looked deceptively like a Burger King a block from the Hynes Auditorium – there could be no more appropriate Hogu guest than the author of “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburger Stand.” Guest of Honor Lawrence Watt-Evans said, “This proves I finally made it. I wasn’t sure – last year I won one of those joke awards….” Putting the importance of literature in its proper perspective, Watt-Evans observed that Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings has sold 11 million copies, “Which is about one-quarter of the people who watched every episode of My Mother The Car.”

Lawrence Watt-Evans never recovered from being the 1989 Hogu Ranquet guest of honor.

Lawrence Watt-Evans never recovered from being the 1989 Hogu Ranquet guest of honor.

Such dignitaries as Julie Evans, Martha Soukup, Brian Burley and Tom Galloway listened to Elst Weinstein explain the Hogu selection procedure. Said Elst, “The voting system has changed over the years.” Yes, we used to count them. Somebody shouted, “Don’t worry – I’m from Brooklyn – I have plenty of postal money orders!”

Too bad, actually: this was a strictly-cash operation. With 60 people on hand there were tidal waves on a sea of green making sure a broad spectrum of favorites (or whatever the right antonym may be) won. . I was a bit self-conscious sitting in the Boylston Street Burger King while someone ran through the aisle waving a dollar bill and shouting, “Dianetics! Dianetics!” Elst made one small exception to the cash-only rule: he accepted an Exxon credit card – cut in half – as worth $5 voting credit in a category where the oil company was nominated.

Hogu commission membership cardThere was a commotion when Elvis made an appearance at the Hogus. It seems some local college group had picked the same hamburger joint at the same time and was conducting some meeting of their own when Elvis passed by to tell them hello. It was promptly dubbed the Best Hoax Appearance at a Hogu Ranquet.

Stupidity Is Also A Crime: Four huckster tables were hit by thieves during Noreascon Three, taking two copies of a limited edition of Stephen King’s Gunslinger, two other King rarities (one a British edition), and a signed limited edition Batman worth over $2,000.

One of the victimized dealers has a shop in the city. A man walked in and asked the employee at the counter would he be interested in buying one of the rarities at a good price? Aware of the theft, the employee said sure, they probably wanted to buy the book but needed the manager’s approval. A time was set for the fan to return to transact the sale.

While Boston police were still jumping all over the first fan, two others walked in with more stolen collectibles for sale saying, “Say, I understand you bought some stuff like this from my friend….”

Remembering “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” at Noreascon Three (1989)

Noreascon Three marked the 50th Anniversary of the first World SF Convention, held in New York in 1939, by hosting a Sunday brunch that featured testimonials from every fannish generation, including from several people who had been to the original Worldcon (and one who had been thrown out of it!)

I asked Ellen Franklin of Noreascon Three’s Extravaganza Division what she recalled about organizing the brunch. Ellen answered:

What I do remember is that my team and I tried to create memorable moments, events where people could share in a heart based way and feel they had a voice, that what they said truly mattered. I still feel that way when people gather together, the most important thing is to create a true sense of community.

As I recall speaking order was definitely arranged and the event was loosely scripted to create diversity of comments–we also had Arthur C. Clarke from Sri Lanka I believe on audio perhaps with a photo of him. Hard to remember if it were today we would have used Skype. Jim Hudson remembers we also wanted everyone from the old pros, to fans, and newbies to talk about what the World Con meant to them or how their lives had been influenced, etc. It was incredibly important to me that these be heart based and meaningful and not ego driven, and I found a way to politely ask this of people when they were invited to speak…and somehow it all worked.

Breakfast With The Timebinders by Mike Glyer: Watching Noreascon’s Sunday Brunch unfold I thought: there may be other days like this but there won’t be many, and the ones we do have are to be cherished.

Isaac Asimov in Noreascon 3 dealers room. Photo by Gordon McGregor from site.

Isaac Asimov in Noreascon 3 dealers room. Photo by Gordon McGregor from site.

Isaac Asimov1, an appropriate “first speaker,” set the theme: “This is the fiftieth anniversary [of the first Worldcon] so this is a nostalgic brunch.” Asimov attended the first one and sounded less embarrassed than proud that he had not been turned back at the door with six other Futurian rabble-rousers2. Indeed, Asimov told the 1939 audience “I was the worst science fiction writer unhung.” Asimov said he’d refreshed his memory of 1939 by reading the Panshins’ The World Beyond The Hill, which chronicles the ascendancy of Campbell (and presumably Asimov) in the golden age of Astounding.

With the house lights down and Asimov standing in a spotlight, the barrage of flash photography may have helped record the golden moment for some at the expense of others seeing it at all. Though slow to come, an emphatic order against all flashes was crucial to the precious moments that followed. For the rest of the program attention moved around the room as spotlights focused on speakers at different tables, building emotional momentum as long-time pros and fans spoke about the impact of science fiction and its Worldcons on their lives.

Dave Kyle in 2011.

Dave Kyle

Asimov’s spotlight flicked off and a second one found Dave Kyle3 at a nearby table. Said Kyle, “Science fiction has not changed my life – science fiction is my life.” Kyle credited Forry Ackerman for his introduction to science fiction. As a 16-year-old Kyle sold his first sf story to Charles Hornig4, who at that moment was seated at Dave’s table. (Hornig’s magazine folded before the story saw print.) Kyle said, like Asimov, he also was admitted to the first Worldcon only because Sam Moskowitz didn’t realize that the Futurians’ controversial publications had been printed by him. When Kyle married, he bragged, he had 53 people on his honeymoon – a charter flight to the first Worldcon in London.

Betty Ballantine5 remembered as a child reading Dracula late at night in the jungle of India by lantern light with jackals howling and birds making weird sounds. As an adult she remembered the friendships she made in sf, working with the people she most admired.

Jack Williamson6 recalled, “In 1926 I was 18, had gotten out of a country high school with actually six years of schooling, had no job,” but in 1926 he saw Gernsback’s Amazing Stories and can still recite its table of contents. “I read that and I was born again.” With a borrowed typewriter he started writing his own sf, and next year Gernsback began buying it.

Terry Pratchett in 2011.

Terry Pratchett in 2011.

Terry Pratchett7 recalled that at newsstands in Britain the good magazines were on the top shelf and sf was on the bottom shelf, from which he argued the shortness of old British sf fans was a matter of natural selection. More seriously, Pratchett said he learned from sf that mathematics was actually interesting, which no one else was telling him. “Good old sf – whenever I’ve needed you, you’ve always been there.”

Andre Norton8 was wheeled from the brunch to a standing ovation. Then the spotlight picked out Kees Van Toorn9, 30-ish chairman of the 1990 Worldcon in Holland. Kees invoked the name of Mario Bosnyak, who brought the Worldcon to Heidelberg, its first and only time in mainland Europe [to that time], and Kees’ own first Worldcon.

Gregory Benford10 also went to his first convention in Germany, but 14 years earlier, in 1956. Benford’s father was in the Army and stationed there. Benford and his brother both had to learn a foreign language. “I had to learn English – because I’m from Alabama.” Greg’s first Worldcon was Pacificon II (1964) in Oakland. He also went to the next Bay Area Worldcon in 1968. “It’s aptly been said that if you remember BayCon you weren’t there.” BayCon was held in the Claremont “where the rooms were so small we were told not to complain to the hotel management but to the humane society.” Benford, a professor of physics, said, “It’s impossible to convey what it’s like to do science and write science fiction – great freedom of movement.”

Gregory and Jim Benford in Germany in 1956. From site.

Gregory and Jim Benford in Germany in 1956. From site.

Jane Yolen11 cast her remarks in rhyming doggerel, one a couplet expressing her wish that “A fantasy book would at last win the Hugo.” Her wish was loudly applauded by everyone who has forgotten Jack Vance’s Hugo for The Last Castle.

Forrest J Ackerman12 began to recount his life in science fiction at sufficient length and with so many examples present time seem to have lost all meaning for him until, with a gleam in his eye, Forry concluded, “You can see in my 50 years of science fiction I’ve accomplished about as much as in a lazy afternoon for Isaac Asimov.”

Mike Resnick’s13 implied comparison between the community he and Carol found at the 1963 Worldcon and the present was like a bolt of lightning. Attendance at Discon I was 600. Rooms were $8 apiece. The banquet was held in the afternoon because nobody could afford the evening rates, and even so the $3 charge almost caused a riot. The most expensive piece sold in the Art Show was a cover by Frazetta that went for $70, a price so high fans doubted it would ever be equaled. The pros wrote and performed a play for the benefit for the fans. Writers thought they could make $7,500 a year – if Robert Silverberg ever stopped selling 30 stories a month. The huckster room sold only books and magazines. Fans who read sf outnumbered those who didn’t. Resnick said that now he comes to the Worldcon mostly for business, but there is still that sense of community he found in 1963.

Takumi Shibano at Nolacon II in 1988. From the site.

Takumi Shibano at Nolacon II in 1988. From the site.

Japan’s Takumi Shibano14 published the fanzine Uchuujin (“space dust”), credited with the birth of Japanese fandom. He said, “Nationality doesn’t matter now. I just think of myself as a fan.” In 1939 when he read H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds it reconstructed his view of the world. “The idea that humanity might not be the lords of creation shocked this junior high school boy.”

Hal Clement15 was a fan who became a science teacher and aspired to write a sf story with no science errors. He’s been trying for 48 years, just like for 40 years he tried to write a chemistry test where all the students would interpret every question as he meant it.

Artist Richard Powers16 introduced himself tongue-in-cheek as “one of Betty Ballantine’s more recent inventions.” Powers styled himself a veteran of the “rack space wars” who worked at Hearst “wielding a baseball bat” when Ian Ballantine brought him over to their team of ruffians to work with Fred Pohl “who favored a length of lead pipe.”

Rather than a spotlight for Arthur C. Clarke17 there was a slide of his image beamed out at a large screen in front of the hall as he spoke in a recorded phone call from Sri Lanka. He began, “Science fiction didn’t affect my life, it created my life.” Clarke spoke fondly of the genre, but didn’t forget to needle Isaac Asimov.

Michael Whelan’s18 painful shyness and self-effacement hindered his start in the genre. He would never have approached a Frazetta or a Freas for an appraisal of his work, “Even though it’s exactly what I needed at the time.” He didn’t respect the opinion of those “outside the business” while at the same time he assumed those in the business of fantasy art would be too busy, or his work would be too embarrassing. In 1974, Whelan’s casual discovery of a San Diego Comic-Con flyer moved him to show his work. When he came back at the end of the weekend, he was amazed to find all his work had sold – of course, the asking price was $15. A volunteer agented his artwork at the 1974 Worldcon. Anxiously he waited for the results and learned over the phone one painting had won Best SF – in the professional division! He soon had his first paperback cover assignment from DAW. It all happened in the space of a month-and-a-half.

Samuel Delany19 went by Greyhound to his first Worldcon in 1966, only $36 in his pocket to get him through an entire weekend in Cleveland. He wound up in a room for $4.50 a night. Delany remembers 3,000 people at the con (the record shows 850) emphasizing how lonely he felt among a crowd of people he didn’t know and didn’t know him. A 15-year-old who’d been to three cons took him in hand and introduced him to lots of folks. After four hours the kid asked Delany what he did for a living. “I write sf.” The kid was delighted, “Wow – you’re a pro! And here I am showing you around the convention.” Just last year the kid published Delany’s Hugo-winning nonfiction book.

Frederik Pohl20 said, “Science fiction changed my life…. It gave me a profession. The best kind. I do all the things I like, that I would do for nothing – and people give me money for it.” As Pohl waxed nostalgic about the 1939 Worldcon one began to wonder which Futurians actually got excluded from the con. Pohl claimed even he got in – at least until Wil Sykora saw him and threw him out. Pohl claims that was no great loss. He went to the bar next door and found all the pros in there.

Will Shetterly and Emma Bull in 1994. Photo from Wikipedia.

Will Shetterly and Emma Bull in 1994. Photo from Wikipedia.

Emma Bull21 remembered as a college student she passed her time in a clinic waiting room by reading Foundation. Another girl asked, “Is that good? My boyfriend has been trying to get me to read it.” Emma knew, “She was really asking, ‘Is my boyfriend okay?’” Looking straight at Isaac Asimov, Emma repeated her answer: “I allowed as how the Foundation Trilogy was pretty good.” The audience gasped with laughter. The girl and her boyfriend visited Emma that very night. The boyfriend sat with Emma in front of the bookshelf comparing notes on what they’d read. The boyfriend was Will Shetterly, and borrowing a line Emma concluded, “Reader – I married him!”

Art Widner at Torcon III in 2003.

Art Widner at Torcon III in 2003.

Said Art Widner22, “Like so many fen, I was the Old Weird Harold on my block, carrying home those lurid pulp magazines with nubile bimbos on the cover wearing VW hubcap bras – which was remarkable because Volkswagen hadn’t been invented yet.” Widner said like Voyager 2 after 10 years he had explored the local system, science fiction fandom, and went to see what lay beyond. “Thirty-five years later I came back to report: it’s pretty lonely out there.” He returned to fandom as an “eo-neo” and bumped into Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden “who knew who I was – or rather, had been.”

Anita Raj, contemporary photo.

Anita Raj, contemporary photo.

The spotlight found the last speaker in the center aisle, diminutive Anita Raj23, who told her story: “This is my first Worldcon. A month ago I was a simple mundane and wandered into a work session for this convention.” She collated, stapled and mailed, and wound up with a radio and a beeper in charge of a gang of teamsters during Hynes set-up. “Don’t even try, because you can’t get rid of me now.”

Fans with longer memories than mine had probably identified with and been moved by all that had gone before, but for me it was Anita Raj who put the exclamation point at the end of the story and brought tears to my eyes.

Tears were probably in Isaac Asimov’s eyes, too – for having to wait so long to top Arthur C. Clarke’s dig at him. Payback time came during Asimov’s closing remarks.

“About six weeks ago there was an airplane crash in an Iowa cornfield24 which a hundred people survived. Others unfortunately died. Newspapers reported that one of the survivors was reading an Arthur C. Clarke novel before the crash. When Arthur saw that he immediately had 750 copies made, which he mailed to 750 friends, acquaintances and strangers.” As a postscript to Asimov’s copy Clarke wrote, “He should have been reading an Asimov novel: he would have slept through the whole thing.” Asimov huffed, “I wrote back to Arthur that the reason he was reading a Clarke novel was so that if the plane crashed it would be a blessed relief!”


1. Isaac Asimov lived less than three more years, passing away in April 1992. Later that same year his story “Gold” won the Best Novelette Hugo. During his career he wrote or edited over 500 books. Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate in economics, credits Asimov’s concept of psychohistory with inspiring him to become an economist.

2. Futurian rabble-rousers. An ironic description. The Futurians were at feud with the other New York fans who were the main organizers of the first Worldcon and refused to let them attend.

3. Dave Kyle is still with us. In Mimosa #17, “I Miss the Banquets”, Kyle wrote:  “A joyful revival of the banquet came at Noreascon Three, in 1989, with a luncheon honoring Guest of Honor Andre Norton. She sat in her wheelchair between my wife Ruth and me, and received a standing applause of appreciation as she rolled out of the room in the glare of the spotlight. It was an excellent reminder of the tradition that had once been. With Isaac Asimov as toastmaster, the dozen brief speeches on the theme of what science fiction and fandom meant to each speaker was a powerful moment for a memorable convention.”

4. Charles Hornig created one of the first fanzines in 1933, and became the teen-aged managing editor of Wonder Stories from November 1933 to April 1936. He lived until 1999.

5. Betty Ballantine, born 1919, is still alive. She was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2007 and the Ballantines were both inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008, with a shared citation.

6. Jack Williamson received a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1994. He was part of the inaugural class of inductees to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1996. The Horror Writers Association gave him its Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1998. The World Horror Convention elected him Grand Master in 2004. Jack died in 2006 at home in New Mexico at age 98. A great deal of his work remains in print thanks to the Haffner Press.

7. Terry Pratchett was knighted for his services to literature in the 2009 Queens’ New Year Honours list. The title acknowledged not only his literary output — 36 novels in the Discworld series alone – but his service as a public spokesman for research into Alzheimer’s since being diagnosed with the disease.

8. Andre Norton, despite her frailties, lived until 2005. She was the first woman to be Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy (1977), first to be SFWA Grand Master (1984), and first inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame (1997).

9. Van Toorn chaired ConFiction the following year (1990), which was the second Worldcon held in mainland Europe. There hasn’t been another yet.

10. Gregory Benford, a Professor Emeritus, Physics & Astronomy, of UC Irvine, two-time Nebula winner, writes frequently about science policy and cultural topics. His latest sf output includes two novels in collaboration with Larry Niven, Bowl of Heaven and Shipstar.

11. Jane Yolen has won two Nebulas since that afternoon (1998 and 1999), received a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009) and been named a Grand Master Poet by the SF Poetry Association. She lives in Massachusetts. And despite my tart comment in 1989, these days I agree with everyone else that The Last Castle was sf. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first fantasy novel to win a Hugo (2001).

12. Forrest J Ackerman survived to celebrate his 92nd birthday, then passed away on December 4, 2008. Even minus the items separately sold to Paul Allen, the auction of collectibles remaining in his estate fetched over a quarter million dollars.

13. Mike Resnick, who won his first Hugo at Noreascon Three, now has won a total of five. He’s also won a raft of other awards (including a Nebula), one of them a Seiun for the Japanese translation of the same story that won him his first Hugo – “Kirinyaga” (2000). He was Worldcon guest of honor in 2012.

14. Takumi Shibano, an internationally beloved fan, was twice Worldcon guest of honor: at L.A.con III (1996) and Nippon 2007. He passed away in 2010.

15. Harry Stubbs, aka Hal Clement, aka artist George Richard, was inducted to the SF Hall of Fame in 1998 and was named a SFWA Grand Master Award in 1999. He received a Retro Hugo Award in 1996 for his 1945 short story “Uncommon Sense.” He passed away in 2003.

16. Richard Powers, inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008, also was Worldcon guest of honor at MagiCon (1992). He lived until 1996.

17. Arthur C. Clarke received a CBE in 1989 and was knighted in 2000. He died in 2008 and his legacy includes the award named for him that is given to the best British sf novel of the year, and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

18. At Noreascon 3, Michael Whelan tied Kelly Freas’ mark of 10 Best Professional Artist Hugos and to date he has won a total of 15. Whelan was inducted to the SF Hall of Fame in 2009.

19. Samuel Delany was inducted to the SF Hall of Fame in 2002 and was presented the SFWA Grand Master Award in 2014. He was Worldcon guest of honor at Intersection (1995). He is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

20. Frederik Pohl was selected to the SF Hall of Fame in 1998 and was given the SFWA Grand Master Award in 1993. He came full circle, in a way, winning a Best Fan Writer Hugo in 2009 largely for his autobiographical posts on The Way The Future Blogs. He passed away in 2013.

21. Emma Bull’s credits include serving as Executive Producer and one of the writers for Shadow Unit. Bull and Shetterly live in Minneapolis.

22. Art Widner, who won a Big Heart Award at Noreascon Three, received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award in 1992. Impressively, he is still an active fan today.

23. Anita Raj is on Facebook. I was not successful in getting a comment about the anniversary.

24. Asimov had in mind the crash landing of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City six weeks earlier, where 111 died in the accident while 185 survived, their survival attributed to the outstanding manner in which the flight crew handled the emergency. The events later became a TV Movie with Charlton Heston, James Coburn and Richard Thomas.

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Saturday at Noreascon 3 (1989)

Myth Adventures Fan Club flyer by Christopher Smigliano.

Myth Adventures Fan Club flyer by Christopher Smigliano advertising their Saturday night party at Noreascon Three.

Saturday at Noreascon Three. Third installment of my reminiscences about a once-in-a-generation convention that took place 25 years ago this week.

Lights, Camera, Inaction! Fire marshals threw a large monkey wrench into plans for opening the Art Show when they disapproved a lighting setup that had passed muster at other conventions. Not until Saturday was the con allowed to turn on the full array.

According to Chip Hitchcock in Instant Message #464: “At about 11 a.m. Thursday the hotel electrician and other people visited us and told us a lot of our things were unacceptable. One of the main concerns was a new city ordinance prohibiting unshielded bulbs, which might break if a 9-foot-tall fan bumped into them.”

Chairman Mark Olson explained, “The hotel did have concerns about fires; there was a genuine hotel room fire in a room in the South Tower [of the Sheraton] Wednesday morning, believed to have been caused by a TV set…”

Kurt Siegel at MagiCon in 1992. Photo by Mark Olson on site.

Kurt Siegel at MagiCon in 1992. Photo by Mark Olson on site.

Hitchcock continued: “The fire marshal arrived around 2 p.m. and questioned our fireworthiness. He wanted to see our hangings’ flameproofing certificate… Anton Chernoff thought he had it; went home and fortunately found it.” When the word went out the con found other help. “Teresa Renner remembered a gopher in Registration who was a fireman: Kurt Siegel of the Schenectady Fire Department, who talked fire departmentese to them and saved a lot of time. He also went across the street to the fire house and talked to the station master, getting his okay to open the show if we didn’t turn on our lights.”

To obtain reflectors to cover the bulbs the committee searched from Back Bay to San Francisco Bay. Said Hitchcock: “With the help of Tom Whitmore, Gary Feldbaum and I tracked down suppliers in the San Francisco area. At one point we had Frank Richards in a warehouse in Woburn and Monty [Wells] in the office in South Boston waving money at a wholesaler, finally convincing them it was OK to give the stuff at the warehouse to Frank.” It was early Saturday when the lights were completely ready.

When the lights went on the Art Show winners were:

Popular Choice
Best Artist (Professional): Michael Whelan
Best Artist (Professional) Honorable Mention: James Gurney
Best Artist (Amateur): Nevenah Smith
Best Artist (Amateur) Honorable Mention: Omar Rayyan

Chairman’s Choice: Michael Whelan, “Passage: The Red Step”
Honorable Mention: Tom Kidd, “Winsor McCay City”

Directors’ Choices: C. Anderson: Paul Chadwick, “Storming Heaven”; D. Anderson: Bob Eggleton, “Horsehead Nebula.”

Art Show Staff Choice
Bonnie Atwood, “Water Dance”
David A. Cherry, “A Stitch In Time”
Ruth Sanderson, “A Tale of Two Cities”
Honorable Mention
Barclay Shaw, “Euridice”
Arlin Robins, “Sea Dreams (Study)”
Vincent DiFate, “Popular Science (sketch – Voyager and Saturn)”

Take Me To The Captain of the Starship: Self-effacing, the Program Operations staff dubbed itself “Program Oops.” Priscilla Olson and Ben Yalow, who had spearheaded work in creating the Noreascon Three program, joined operations staff Fred Duarte, Karen Meschke and others to implement it smoothly. This included hearing people’s last-minute pitches to be added to existing program. “The only fan from Iceland” asked could he please have a free membership, in return for which he would be willing to talk about an ever-increasing list of topics. He grabbed passerby Fred Patten to intercede, who was counter-recruited to take “the only fan from Iceland” off and lose him. (However, other reports say the Icelandic fan appeared on the “Sherlock Holmes and SF” panel.)

Her diplomatic handling of Paul Edwards’ effort to insert himself onto already-full panels initiated one staffer into a peculiar Worldcon ritual. Chief of the Program Division Priscilla Olson declared, “You deserve a blue dot.” Priscilla pointed to her own badge which had nine tiny adhesive blue dots affixed. “Three of those are for Edwards,” she said. Called “Lichtenberg dots,” Seth Breidbart received the first one after contending with Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s Tarot reading setup.

Alexis Gilliland opined that “The SFWA Suite had all the warmth and intimacy of a zeppelin hangar. “ However, the Green Room in a corner alcove of the Hynes was graced by 30-foot-tall windows with an outstanding view of the city.

On The Stage and In The Audience: “The Closing of the American Mind” included panelists Greg Benford and David Brin. Francis Hamit attended and reports, “At one point Neil Rest and others in back started booing and yelling at Brin for reasons I could not discern.”

The audience for Saturday’s 10 a.m. running of Orson Scott Card’s “1000 Ideas An Hour” included Janice Gelb who reports: “[During] the first half of the panel he created a believable story with help from the audience, and explained why suggestions do or don’t work.” Card determined for the last half whether to concentrate on science fiction or fantasy depending on a vote of the audience. Out of about 80 fans present, only 12 voted for fantasy, prompting Card to joke, “I should have known; the fantasy people can’t get up this early. They’ve got to stay up until after midnight to check mirrors for reflections!” For the balance of the program he collaborated with the audience to create a believable alien. The group invented two symbiotic animals. One runs fast (after a joke someone made about alien cannibals doing it to get an endorphin fix) and the second mates on the other’s back and lives there.

Gelb also reported that “The 60-Hour Grind” was theoretically about how to handle your full-time job and develop creative talent in your spare time. “Pat Cadigan had quit her job a few years before, and one other panelist had been unemployed for some time. Despite these anomalies the panel went fairly well, with members of the audience chiming in with their own horror stories. One panelist explain[ed] that the idea for the first story he ever sold came to him while he was a naval officer and was enduring Prisoner of War simulation!”

Sitting in the front row at the “Worldcons – Should We Kill Them Before They Kill Us?” panel was Gene Wolfe. When moderator Priscilla Olson was harangued by Linda Bushyager for having too much programming at Noreascon (over 600 items), Wolfe interceded to say he likes the redundancy of items with similar topics so that when he’s forced to choose one program over another he may still have a chance to hear discussion of what he missed later on.

Kelly Freas' poster for Mike Jittlov's "The Wizard of Speed and Time"

Kelly Freas’ poster for Mike Jittlov’s “The Wizard of Speed and Time”

Doug Crepeau, one of Mike Jittlov’s publicists, fished for some good response to the showing of Wizard of Speed and Time at the con. However, Gavin Claypool reported the Sunday showing was canceled. We learned later that was not because of poor attendance or the lukewarm review in a Boston paper. A local distributor rented the print to replace another film doing poorly in one of his movie houses and Wizard ran successfully for three weeks.

“All Our Children” featured discussion on fringe fandoms between Fred Patten, knowledgeable about comics and Japanimation fandoms, and Lois Mangan, a media fan. Janice Gelb moderated, terming the program “mainly a defense by media fans (“We do so read”) and some historical background on various fannish schisms by [Patten].”

Mr. Yalow Meets Mr. Murphy: Things ran smoothly enough that Fred Duarte was hard-pressed to think of any problems handled by Program Operations – oh, except one. It seems at one program they’d furnished an insufficiently powerful slide projector to penetrate the smoked glass in the projection booth window. They scrounged up another one and the panel started 20 minutes late. Division head Ben Yalow himself took this problem in hand. After all, the speaker was a famous scientist – Dr. Rosalyn Yalow.

Another Episode of Elst Weinstein’s Lobster Surgical Theater: Saturday night after I closed the fanzine sales table with the help of Tony Ubelhor, I joined the Ross Pavlac expedition to the No Name Restaurant, accompanied by Elst, Hope Leibowitz, Tom Veal, Becky Thomson and another couple. As Becky was a convention official at the information table it was yeoman work getting her away from a swarm of folk in search of her advice and orders. Even as Ross dragged Becky away bodily she obliviously continued calling out instructions to someone, “You can call my beeper –“ at which point her beeper vanished and Pavlac’s hand went over her mouth. Getting Becky down to the car to go to the restaurant was at least as much work for Ross as kidnapping Candice Bergen was for Sean Connery in The Wind and The Lion.

There was heated discussion over the menu of this famous Boston seafood restaurant, opened in 1917, and Elst Weinstein told Hope, “Get scrod.” [Not sure why I thought it was mandatory to repeat this joke, which already appeared once in the conreport.]

Ignoring Elst, several people ordered lobster and even persuaded the good doctor (Weinstein, not Asimov) to give them surgical tips for extracting the meat.

During dinner I learned that the business meeting approved Bruce Pelz’ Hugo preservation committee. With northeastern fans always full of ideas for how profitable Worldcons should spend their money, I said I was surprised they stopped at just funding a study committee. They could just as well have gotten a grant from Worldcon Atlanta Inc. to send the winners themselves to a taxidermist. Elst rejoined, “First we stuffed the ballots. Now we’ll stuff the winners.”

Filled with wonderful seafood, we helled back to the Sheraton in taxis: I had to get to the Hugo ceremony!

Fred Pohl emceeing Noreascon 3 Hugo ceremony. Photo by Robert Sneddon from site.

Fred Pohl emceeing Noreascon 3 Hugo ceremony. Photo by Robert Sneddon from site.

Ghod Blesh Saint Fantony: Noreascon’s novel Hugo ceremony required all nominees to rendezvous beforehand in Hynes 200, the function room near the stage entrance to the auditorium.

Hugo nominees, in case they won, received a laser printed diagram of how to approach the stage, where Fred Pohl would hand them the award, where to pause at midstage for photographers, and where to find the steps at the far side of the stage. It looked like a Minnesota Fats bank shot, or Stephen Hawking’s line drawing of the Big Bang. I still haven’t figured out the stage diagram. Or the Big Bang.

The ceremonies started with a procession of the nominees grouped by award category and led by a knight of St. Fantony1 bearing a Hugo rocket. How much time did the nominees have to absorb these directions? Remember the old Xerox commercial where the coach sends in Kolodny with copies of a last-minute play?2 We had about that much time.

Lucius Shepard at Noreascon 3. Photo by Frank Olynyk from site.

Lucius Shepard at Noreascon 3. Photo by Frank Olynyk from site.

A member of the committee in a tangerine evening gown tried to shout directions over the din of gossipy pros and fans. Saying, “We will start with the Fan Artist nominees –“ her words were so twisted in the babel that when she repeated them Gardner Dozois said in surprise, “I thought you said faint-hearted nominees—“ and Lucius Shepard claimed to have heard “wannabees.”

While we were backstage being herded together in categories, Jill Eastlake was onstage explaining the traditions of the knights of St. Fantony; we couldn’t make out word one but the muffled tones sounded quite reverent.

I marched in with the fanwriters, and don’t let them tell you it’s not a small world for there I was walking beside none other than NOLAcon’s Justin Winston, seconding the absent Guy Lillian III. Dick Eney in his knightly pastel green garb and brass headband led us. Dick showed his knightly virtue by not asking me where in heck is Fancyclopedia 3 anyway.3

For me, the pretention level of the ceremony had already crossed the redline and I just lost it when I got to the door and heard our processional music was “March of the Gladiators” from Spartacus or something comparable with brassy flourishes and rhythms suited to the stride of captured war elephants.

We walked circuitously through the auditorium like extras in a Hercules movie. Nominees in the professional categories marched at the end. Gardner Dozois basked in the applause, flashing a V-sign at the crowd like Winston Churchill on V-E Day. In his white tuxedo George Alec Effinger looked like he’d gotten lost on his way to the top layer of a wedding cake.

Donald Eastlake III came last in line carrying a purple banner: GHOD BLESH SAINT FANTONY. He stood it beside the larger St. Fantony and Noreascon Three banners already on stage.

Master of ceremonies Fred Pohl began by explaining that he was standing in for the Ballantines, because Ian’s health difficulties of a few months earlier militated against them continuing as emcees. When Pohl mentioned the Ballantines 2,000 fans and writers applauded loudly. Pohl replied, “You can applaud some more because I’m going to say some more nice things about them.” He reviewed their mid-1940s groundbreaking efforts in the science fiction paperback field, ascribing their efforts to drive and talent, and “one other essential ingredient: They paid more than anybody else.”

Noreascon Three presented two Special Awards. One went to artist Alex Schomburg and was accepted by his granddaughter who read the artist’s letter of thanks. The other went to the computer-based service SF Lovers Digest, accepted by its current moderator Saul Jaffe. Jaffe thanked Rutgers University for its facilities.

Rusty Hevelin (left) and Forrest J Ackerman (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from site.

Rusty Hevelin(left) and Forrest J Ackerman (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from site.

Apropos of the 50th Anniversary Worldcon, Fred Pohl introduced the Big Heart Award presenter, Forrest J Ackerman, as “the first fan to wear a costume, outside a secure institution, anyway.” Forry presented the Big Heart Award to Art Widner.

Robert Madle tried to present three First Fandom Awards to L. Sprague De Camp, Don Grant and Fred Pohl, but found he didn’t have the award plaques because he’d neglected to call on three other First Fandomites holding the winners’ plaques, Art Saha, Isaac Asimov and Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. When that was corrected, to much huffing by Art Saha, the presentations were made.

Isaac Asimov introduced De Camp’s award. He teased that the “requirements” of First Fandom are “great age, a withered appearance, and miserable habits. We keep Fred Pohl around as an example.”

Not to be surpassed even by the great Asimov, Pohl told the story of being at a conference with Asimov when a young woman walked up, looked at Isaac’s badge, and twinkled, ‘Oh: you’re Isaac Asimov…. What do you do?’” Pohl gazed at Asimov. “Don’t get me started. I know more Isaac Asimov stories than Harlan Ellison stories.” The audience gasped to think there could be that much material…

Takumi Shibano introduced colleagues from Japan who gave out two Seiun Awards to North American winners not present at the Japanese national convention. Winner of the Best Novel translated into Japanese was Footfall by Niven and Pournelle. Winner of the Best Short Story translated into Japanese was “Eye for Eye” by Orson Scott Card. The physical Seiun Award is something uniquely designed by each year’s committee. This year it appeared to be a small white urn, and Shibano confessed he didn’t know the significance himself.

Andre Norton received thunderous applause when she came onstage to present the award she created and funded. The Gryphon Award goes to the best unpublished fantasy by a woman. The physical award is a white gryphon embedded in a hefty Lucite block, and its winner was Elizabeth Waters. There is also an honor book award, which went to Lee Barwood.

Analog editor Stanley Schmidt presented the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer to Michaela Roessner. Then Fred Pohl began handing out the Hugo Awards.

Best Fan Artist was shared by Brad Foster and Diana Gallagher Wu, who tied with 201 votes apiece. Dave Langford won Best Fanwriter, his acceptance speech (read by Martin Hoare) saying, “Now I can die happy once I’ve been asked to contribute to Last Dangerous Visions.”

Martin Hoare (left) and Mike Glyer (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo from site.

Martin Hoare (left) and Mike Glyer (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo from site.

To my surprise and delight, File 770 won Best Fanzine. Hearing Fred Pohl introduce the category with comments about the fanzine exhibit, including the fanzine reading area I’d arranged, I decided to use the opportunity to ask people to come see it. Regrettably, I phrased things so broadly that I seemed to be strongarming the credit for the whole area and ignoring Nancy Atherton’s organization of the historic fanzine exhibit. I’m told at that moment all right-thinking people in the balcony simultaneously muttered, “You asshole!” particularly Debbie Notkin and Spike Parsons who looked me up the next day to tell me so. I apologized to Nancy and inserted a correction in the daily newzine.

Caroline Mullan (center) and Peter Weston (seated) at Tea Party II during Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from site.

Caroline Mullan (center) and Peter Weston (seated) at Tea Party II during Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from site.

Best Semiprozine went to Locus. I wondered whether Charlie Brown ever did any maintenance on his Hugos. Not that it ever occurred to me they needed any until British fan Peter Weston, whose company has been manufacturing the Hugo rockets since 1984, took me aside. He had seen my Hugos in Bruce Pelz’ display and complained they were getting tarnished and ought to be polished. I told him that’s all I needed was to have some friends drop in and catch me polishing my Hugos!

After Michael Whelan accepted the Best Professional Artist Hugo, Fred told a story about the 1966 Worldcon in Cleveland. They shared the convention hotel with a group of World War II veterans. Pohl got stuck in an elevator with 15 people: the vets sobbed and pounded on the walls shouting, “For the love of God, Montresor!” while the fans just said, “Let’s do some filk!” The hotel got them out by bringing the other elevator car alongside, taking out the walls, and inviting them to step across eight stories of empty space.

Samuel Delany at Noreascon 3. Photo by Frank Olynyk from site.

Samuel Delany at Noreascon 3. Photo by Frank Olynyk from site.

Gardner Dozois accepted the Best Professional Editor Hugo. Producer Frank Marshall was on hand to pick up the Best Dramatic Presentation rocket for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Samuel Delany delightedly received the Best Nonfiction Book Hugo for The Motion of Light in Water. A happy Mike Resnick was stunned into uncharacteristic speechlessness by his first Hugo, for his short story “Kirinyaga.”

Not even the finest novel of his career and a home-town Worldcon could swing a Hugo for George Alec Effinger in 1988, but in Boston he was not only summoned to accept the Best Novelette Hugo for “Schrodinger’s Kitten,” he outpolled his friend Harlan Ellison’s story in the bargain.

In his white tuxedo Effinger fell somewhere on the spectrum between Mark Twain and John Travolta, yet his acceptance sounded peculiarly like Gary Cooper in a famous movie, complete with faked mike reverb: “Some folks say I’ve had a bad break. But today I feel like I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth, earth, earth.” Sitting next to me was Vancouver’s Fran Skene whose knowledge of American baseball extends little beyond her delight that W.P. Kinsella lives in British Columbia. I told her in a pithy sentence about Lou Gehrig and Fran’s scowl of distaste for Effinger’s humor said it all.

Mike and Carol Resnick at Noreascon 3. Photo from site.

Mike and Carol Resnick at Noreascon 3. Photo from site.

Brandishing his Hugo, Effinger had one last remark: “Mike Resnick and I have just begun collaborating on a novel and these two awards are going to cost somebody a lot.”

Connie Willis’ “Last of the Winnebagos” won the Best Novella Hugo. Connie said that after seeing the Locus photo of her Nebula win she swore if she won a Hugo she “would not be photographed smiling like a chipmunk from ear to ear,” but she abandoned her resolve in the happiness of the moment.

Best Novel went to C.J. Cherryh for Cyteen and she thanked a list of people beginning with “my alpha reader, Jane [Fancher].”

There was the usual orgy of photography after the ceremony. A lot of fans stayed in their seats for the promised Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Batman double-bill. I circled back to the press area for a copy of George Flynn’s excellent press kit with releases about the pro winners and complete voting statistics. Then I found an elevator bound for Keith Kato’s chili party.

1989 Hugo Award winners. Photo by Robert Sneddon. From site.

1989 Hugo Award winners. Photo by Robert Sneddon. From site.

Robert Silverberg (left) and Ralph Vicinanza (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from site.

Robert Silverberg (left) and Ralph Vicinanza (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from site.

The Legendary Keith Kato: Once upon a time Keith Kato was a physics student and science fiction fan who discovered this natural law: if you feed Robert Silverberg sufficiently good chili, he will attend all your parties. In fact, the young Kato spent years perfecting his “Silverberg grade” hot chili and in the process met any number of sf writers including Gregory Benford, who became an advisor on Kato’s Ph.D. committee.

For years Kato hauled his cooking pots and hot plates around the country and spent Hugo day in his room cooking meat and simmering chili, oblivious to the smell of hot oil wafting down the entire corridor as far as the elevators, and hoping Housekeeping was the same. Keith tried to retire once mainly because of the unkissed toads who crashed his parties and never even thanked him.

Fortunately he came back. Before I started to actually win the things, the best part of Hugo night was to be invited to Kato’s party, eat chili, listen to writers’ shop talk, and meet an eclectic mix of international fans from Japan to Norway and everywhere in between. I have been going to them long enough that it was fated I should learn the inner secrets of Keith’s process. First, I ran into Keith at a market next to the convention center filling a shopping cart with cheese and vegetables. “I’m buying all the perishables,” he explained, and I confess it bothered me to discover there were non-perishable ingredients in his chili. At the party, as I hovered over the bathtub, shoving aside the ice-cold imported beers in search of a Diet Pepsi, I heard Kato explaining to Ashley Grayson, “Nobody realizes I cook chili in my swimming trunks.” Without expression Grayson replied, “How do you keep it from running out?”

jan howard finder came in with word the Kees Van Toorn’s noisy ConFiction4 party had just been closed down by Sheraton management. finder took the opportunity to report on the success of several benefit auctions run at Noreascon Three. He said the ASFA auction yielded $3,500 from the sale of 285 items. jan sounded breathless from having run 172 items in the first two hours of the auction.

The daily newzine later reported that the ConFiction party was “partially evacuated twice by hotel staff due to the vast numbers of enthusiastic supporters who came to enjoy real Dutch hospitality and a great bar, featuring 160-proof double-distilled rum known as Stroh.” The rum was available by the glass or in a vanilla/praline cake prepared by Carol Shetler and Larry van der Putte. In spite of the Sheraton, Larry kept the party running until 5 a.m. in the morning.

Tom Hanlon reported pros complained the Bantam Books party was cordoned off by hotel security. They were eventually moved to a larger and cooler room on a non-sleeping-room floor.

Chairman Mark Olson said Sunday night, “We were very, very happy with the treatment we received from the Hynes and the Sheraton.” Compared to the specter of Hotel Hostility raised when the Sheraton originally tried to kick out the Worldcon, the degree of cooperation showed by the hotel was apparently very satisfactory. Despite that, a number of parties were closed.

The committee relied heavily on volunteer elevator monitors to prevent overcrowding. The recruiting pitch in the daily newzine asked, “Do you like standing in small rooms with total strangers? If so, you’re just the person we’re looking for.” For once the newzine’s black humor was exceeded by a grimmer reality. Monitors took a lot of mindless abuse: I heard it, and it was disgusting. The worst case I witnessed involved one idiot who not merely insisted on riding an elevator that a monitor warned had jammed earlier, but loudly abused the monitor and dragged the nearest person to the door to ride with him as an assertion of “hotel customers’ rights.”

Elevator monitors address a real problem, but as Joe Rico summed up, “Without elevator management, elevators are slow, crowded and inefficient. With elevator management, elevators are slow, crowded and inefficient, but at least somebody notes it in the Ops log.”

George Alec Effinger at NOLAcon II in 1988. Photo from site.

George Alec Effinger at NOLAcon II in 1988. Photo from site.

Saturday Night’s All Right For Fightin’: Unlikely as it seems that George Alec Effinger would need to stray very far from his home in New Orleans’ French Quarter in search of exotic pleasure, and even more unlikely that he would find it in Boston, he found his heart’s desire at a Boston Red Sox game. His friend Debbie Hodgkinson mentioned they got into a tiff: “George is off in baseball land. He got mad when I called it Fenwick.”

Effinger was even more emotional about the reception for his 1988 Hugo-nominated novel When Gravity Fails: he is thoroughly outraged by the lack of promotion for his books. Said George, “People keep coming up to me asking when the sequel to Gravity is going to be out – and it’s been out for THREE MONTHS!!”

Effinger was soothed to learn the sequel, A Fire In The Sun, was featured in the window of a nearby bookstore. George’s calm was short-lived, though, for after the Hugo ceremony a passing fan asked him if the Hugo in his arms was bought in the Art Show.


1. Not sure that the Fancyclopedia’s article about the Order of St. Fantony really makes clear what it is, but it’s a long entry.

2. YouTube has a copy of Xerox’s Kolodny commercial.

3. In the 1980s I was still part of the Fancyclopedia 3 editorial project. Today it’s a wiki site under completely different and obviously successful management because I can actually look stuff up on it!

4. ConFiction was the next year’s – 1990 – Worldcon.

5. The Myth Adventures Fan Club party flyer included above is one of a series of six by Christopher Smigliano. The entire set is online here.

Here Jay Kay Klein (right) interrupts photographing the 1989 Hugo winners long enough to give me a piece of his mind. I must deserve it -- do I look guilty, or what? Photo by Julee Johnson Tate.

Here Jay Kay Klein (right) interrupts photographing the 1989 Hugo winners long enough to give me a piece of his mind. I must deserve it — do I look guilty, or what? Photo by Julee Johnson Tate.