Lunacon 2017 Names Guests of Honor

The Guests of Honor at Lunacon 2017 will be Writer Ben Bova and Fan Roberta Rogow. In addition, the convention will feature the Boogie Knights as Musical Guests.

  • Ben Bova is the author of some 124 works of science fact and fiction, including the John W. Campbell Memorial Award-winning novel Titan (2007, part of the Grand Tour series. He has also written the Exiles and Kinsman series. Bova is a six-time Hugo Award winner as Best Professional Editor for Analog, where he succeeded the legendary John W. Campbell, Jr. He went on to be editor of Omni Magazine. A scientist as well as a science writer, in the 1950s, Dr. Bova predicted a U.S. – Soviet Space Race and was involved in Project Vanguard as a technical writer during the early days of the U.S. Space Program. Additionally, he is a past president of both the National Space Society and the Science Fiction Writers of America. Other honors include the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, the Robert A. Heinlein Award, as well as the Lunarians’ Isaac Asimov Memorial Award. His latest novels (both available from Tor Books) are Power Surge and Death Wave.
  • Roberta Rogow is an omnifan. While perhaps best-known to Lunacon attendees as a filk singer-songwriter – where her achievements earned her induction into the Filk Hall of Fame – she was also a trailblazer in Star Trek Fandom, publishing some of its earliest fanzines and contributing fan-fiction to the genre. Additionally, she is a costumer (her most memorable efforts are “Art Show” and “Bag Lady of Gor”) and a dealer in many convention Dealers’ Rooms. Branching out professionally, she is the author of Futurespeak, a dictionary of sf, fannish and media terms, and of speculative fiction and historical murder mysteries, notably a series featuring Oxford don Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and a young Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, and, more recently, a series set in an alternate North America ruled by Spain, the latest of which is Mischief in Manatas. She was also our Toastmistress at Lunacon 2002.
  • The Boogie Knights are a wildly popular, fan favorite filk group from Maryland who, since 1982, and with a varying membership, have been performing “songs of daring-do with nary a hey nonny nonny,” parodies of everything from commercial jingles to TV and movie themes, and from golden oldies to the latest top-40 songs, all done with a wicked humorous medieval or fantasy twist. Their newest CD, Wasted Days and Wasted Knights, is available via CD Baby.

John W. Upton, the Lunacon 2017 Chair, will also be inviting an Artist Guest of Honor.

Lunacon 2017 will be held on the weekend of April 7 – 9, 2017 at the Westchester Marriott Hotel in Tarrytown.

Ernest Borgnine (1917-2012)

Ernest Borgnine, actor, died July 8, aged 95. He won an Oscar for the lead role in Marty (1955). His genre roles included The Devil’s Rain (1975), The Ghost of Flight 401 (tv movie, 1978), The Black Hole (1979), Escape From New York and Deadly Blessing (both 1981), Airwolf (1983) and Alice in Wonderland (1985). Twice his career path crossed Harlan Ellison’s, when Borgnine was cast in The Oscar (1966, script by Ellison) and in the short-lived tv series Future Cop (1976-77) — a show whose makers Ellison and Ben Bova famously sued for plagiarism.

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]

Bova Column on SF Conventions

Ben Bova  devotes his latest column for the Naples News to science fiction conventions.

For example, some years ago in a hotel far, far away (it was in St. Louis, actually) the hotel staff took one look at the fans arriving for their convention and decided to treat them like scum. Service was worse than dismal. The hotel even shut down the elevators at midnight, which stranded late-night revelers in the lobby. I was among them and got into a fist fight (mild mannered me!) with a young elevator operator who refused to take a group of us to the floors where our rooms were located.

Within a week after that convention closed, several national aerospace organizations canceled their plans to hold meetings at that hotel; the hotel’s insurance carrier tripled the hotel’s rates, and a few other inconveniences were rained upon the hotel’s management and staff.

…Not the least being the installation of self-service elevator controls. The Chase-Park Plaza’s elevator operators were out of a job by 1974 when I was there for the Popular Culture Association convention.

[Via Tony Lewis on Smofs.]

John Schoenherr (1935-2010)

When I became an avid sf reader in the late 1960s every prozine on the local library shelves was digest-sized and there wasn’t a hint that the case had ever been any different.

Then I met LASFSian Ed Cox and saw his pulp magazine collection, filled with perfectly preserved copies of Thrilling Wonder, the pages inside still looking as white as the day the magazine appeared on the newsstand.

Another friend impressed me even more with the news that my favorite prozine had experimented with a large format during WWII — collectors called them “bedsheet Astoundings” — and had briefly revived the format (as Analog) just a few years before. I found them for sale in used bookstores and soon owned a copy of the most dramatic prozine cover ever, John Schoenherr’s depiction of a sandworm for the March 1965 Analog.

Now the artist has passed away at the age of 74. He died April 8. His son Ian mourned him, saying:

He was a man of many talents and I can’t say what he was best at, but he was, among countless other things, a great artist, a great husband to my mother for almost 50 years, and a great dad to my sister and me.

For science fiction fans the physical passing of John Schoenherr will represent perhaps the third time we’ve mourned his loss, because of the times he’s left the sf magazine field. The first came in the late 1960s when he stopped doing covers for Analog. John W. Campbell said in a 1967 letter: “We’re losing him now; we can’t match Reader’s Digest’s $3000 offers — nor the book illustration rates the big publishing houses give him. The man is good.”

However, following Campbell’s death in 1971, Ben Bova became editor of Analog and Schoenherr resumed working for the magazine. He produced 22 more covers in the next six years. That association ended again when Bova moved to Omni. Also, around that time Schoenherr began to focus on wildlife painting.

He would win a Caldecott Medal in 1988 for his work in Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon.

Schoenherr’s death has prompted some fans to wonder why an artist whose sf work was so esteemed practically never won awards and was never Worldcon guest of honor. John W. Campbell, in that same 1967 letter, bluntly answered: “Jack Schoenherr, probably the best artist science fiction ever had, got one Hugo once. He never attended a convention, never did any artwork for the fan magazines, never made personal friends.”

He did not court fandom, which may be all the answer needed. But he did make personal friends elsewhere as Carl Zimmer testifies in his reminiscence for Discover: “Everyone always joked that Jack was a great bear. It wasn’t just his ursine cast that earned him that name; it was also his combination of grouchiness and loyalty.”

In Jeopardy with John W. Campbell

Ben Bova listed the people he credits for helping him make it as a professional writer in an article for the Naples News:

No writer stands alone. We all owe our success, such as it is, to those who taught us, inspired us, helped us understand and persevere.

Editor John W. Campbell figures prominently in that list. Bova sold him several stories before meeting him face-to-face at a Worldcon in Washington, D.C. After shaking his hand, Campbell provocatively said: “This is 1963. No democracy has ever lasted longer than 50 years, so this is obviously the last year of America’s democracy.”

Bova dredged his memory to come up with the Jeopardy!-style question that matched Campbell’s bold declaration. And he guessed right. Can you? Click the link to check your answer.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]

Snapshots 15

Six developments of interest to fans.

(1) In science fiction’s Golden Age, every author treasured those long, helpful rejection letters from the great John W. Campbell, right? Well, not quite everybody. After a certain point, Robert Heinlein was willing to content himself with a little less money if it meant he didn’t have to put up with Campbell’s annoying feedback:

I don’t think Fantasy and Science Fiction is riding the edge; I think they are just stingy.… Still, it is pleasanter than offering copy to John Campbell, having it bounced (he bounced both of my last two Hugo Award winners) —and then have to wade through ten pages of his arrogant insults, explaining to me why my story is no good.

(2) Comic book takes on real presidents.

(3) Charley McCue knows what appeals to Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol readers. He promotes a relaxacon to them saying: “No programing is planned but great IMing face to face in the Suite.”

(4) The Naples Press Club’s “Salute to Ben Bova” will take place January 25. For more details, see www.naplespressclub.org. The local paper helped promote the event by publishing a short autobiographical article by Bova:

One of my greatest lessons in journalism came one evening when one of the paper’s elder editors took me for a walk around the Inquirer building. Working men were sitting on the front steps of their row houses, reading the evening paper.

“If you want to write for newspapers,” the old man told me, “you’ve got to be able to take the most complicated things happening in the world and write it so that they can understand it.”

I never forgot that. Write clearly enough so that anyone who can read can understand your words.

(5) Science fiction artist Charles Schneeman’s papers are preserved in the UC Davis Special Collections:

The bulk of the collection is comprised of sketches, compositional studies, final artwork, a presentation portfolio, printer’s proofs, and magazine clippings from 1935-1963, with the majority from 1938-1942, that document Schneeman’s working process as an illustrator for Astounding Stories/Astounding Science Fiction and other publications. In addition to the science fiction genre, Schneeman illustrated romance magazines, drew humorous cartoons, and created historical and scientific illustrations.

(6) I was intrigued by Lee Strong’s review of Hancock, which not only praised and panned, but warned:

First of all, it was very foul mouthed, which is not my cup of tea. Much of the language seemed to be appropriate (?) given the situation but I still prefer my superheroes to limit themselves to “Blast!” and “Holy road wheels, Tankman!”

[Thanks to Michael Walsh, Roger Tener and Steve Davidson for links included in this story.]