Wesley Crusher: Naming Calls

ST:TNG had just started its second season when Rick Foss and I organized the 1988 Loscon program. Every fan I knew watched the show and had opinions about the assorted minor controversies involving its creator Gene Roddenberry and how the characters were scripted. We expected a panel about Wesley Crusher, the precocious teenaged boy who all too often saved the Enterprise, to be a good draw, and we had excellent writers to use on it.

We also had the prospect of springing a celebrity guest on the panelists – just not the one who actually showed up. Here’s what happened. (From File 770 #78, recently uploaded to Fanac.org)

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The Star Trek-oriented “Solving the Wesley Problem” filled every seat and had fans lining the walls They got a bonus when the actor who plays Wesley unexpectedly dropped in.

The panel began with D.C. Fontana, Joe Straczynski (then known as story editor for the new The Twilight Zone), Sonni Cooper (a Trek novelist), Mel Gilden and Jane Mailander (local writers) and a hoped-for surprise guest – but not the one we got.

As the program began, Bjo Trimble was stationed at the front of the Pasadena Hilton, and John Trimble at the back door, waiting for the arrival of Patrick Stewart, whom a contact at Paramount had supposedly sent our way seeking some word-of-mouth publicity for his Charles Dickens reading scheduled in December.

While I was shuttling between John and Bjo for news of Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, who plays Wesley, materialized in the “Solving the Wesley Problem” audience and virtually took over the panel. As I learned from him the next day, he simply came to Loscon because he likes sf conventions. But Guy Vardaman, his stand-in, looked in the pocket program and told him, “Hey, there’s an ‘I Hate Wesley’ panel; I think you should check it out.”

Wheaton’s gesture to explain the panelists’ changing tone when he arrived was one of extracting foot from mouth. (Actually, the panelists had criticized the series, rather than Wheaton’s acting.) They didn’t know he hadn’t been there for most of it.

Patrick Stewart never did show up, but I like to think of the alternate world where he walked in on the panel after Wil Wheaton had already joined it. What pandemonium!

Before Wheaton’s unexpected appearance, our biggest “star” was going to be Paul Marco, joining the “Plan 9 From Outer Space 30th Anniversary” panel. He played Kelton the cop, and ever since the film came out he’s been working very hard to turn himself into a cult figure, despite the movie’s reputation as the worst film ever made.

Trimbles Walk the Red Carpet at Star Trek: Discovery Screening

Nichelle Nichols and Sonequa Martin-Green

The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery were feted in a Hollywood premiere at ArcLight Cinemas on September 19. CBS has posted a gallery of photos of the cast and celebrities in attendance — “Red Alert! All The Red Carpet Arrivals At The Star Trek: Discovery Premiere”. (Pay no mind that the carpet seems to have been blue — let’s consider it a term of art.)

CBS’ photo gallery includes Bjo and John Trimble, recognized for leading the letter-writing campaign that saved The Original Series in the Sixties.

In addition to the stars of Star Trek: Discovery, present at the premiere were William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, Nana Visitor, Terry Farrell, Adam Nimoy, Jonathan Frakes, Bill Nye, Greg Jein, Rick Sternbach, and Mike and Denise Okuda. (Not all those named here are in the photos.)

Bjo and John Trimble at Star Trek: Discovery premiere.

Westercon 70 Completes Its Guest of Honor Slate

Westercon 70, happening in Tempe, AZ from July 1-4, has announced their final five Guests of Honor.

Science GoH Henry Vanderbilt

Henry founded Space Access Society in 1992 and ran the quietly influential annual Space Access Conferences in most of the years since. He is not a rocket scientist, but he can translate reasonably well between rocket scientist and English. (He did manage a bunch of rocket engineers once, but that’s another story.) He first started working for radically cheaper space transportation via fast-turnaround fuel-and-go reusable rockets back in 1986, when that was all strictly SF. He’s a lifelong Fan but he’s nevertheless pleased as hell to see this plot device now doing a genre jump to current-day technothriller. He looks forward to it soon settling down as just another taken-for-granted background element in mainstream contemporary literature.

Fan GoHs Val & Ron Ontell

Val’s 43 years in fandom include chairing the 2011 World Fantasy Convention, the 1986 and 1989 Lunacons in New York and the 2010 Conjecture in San Diego. She’s currently Guest Liaison for many San Diego cons. Ron has served as the President of the New York Science Fiction Society (the Lunarians) and Val was a board member in the 1980s. Both have held committee positions at a variety of local cons, Westercons and Worldcons and are Senior Assistants in the Autograph Area at San Diego Comic-Con. They’ve also run tours in connection with overseas Worldcons since 1987, including Britain (twice), Ireland, Japan, Australia (twice) and, of course, Helsinki in 2017.

Special Media GoHs Bjo and John Trimble, sponsored in part by the United Federation of Phoenix.

John and Bjo met in science fiction fandom and married in 1960. They originated Art Shows at Worldcon and San Diego Comic-Con and Futuristic Fashion Shows at CostumeCon. They chaired Westercon in 1970 and John co-chaired in 1965. They worked together on the original Save Star Trek letter-writing campaign, which is generally credited with allowing a third season to happen. They’re still active in the SCA and wider fandom. They enjoy unusual cheeses, home-brewed dark beer, intelligent conversation and travel anywhere at any time.

[Thanks to Kate Hatcher for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 9/21/16 “Repent, Pixels”, Said The Box-Tick Man

(1) STATHOPOULOS WINS MAJOR ART PRIZE. Although the critics gave their prize to Louise Herman’s portrait of Barry Humphries, the people have voted the 2016 Archibald Prize People’s Choice award  to a fine artist with fannish roots.

ault-and-stathopoulos

In Nick Stathopoulos’s commanding portrait which won the 2016 Archibald Prize People’s Choice award on Wednesday, its sitter, Deng Adut, sees himself exposed and vulnerable.

A monster, thought the former Sudanese refugee and lawyer when he first saw the finished portrait….

Of the eight artists who approached him, Adut selected Stathopoulos, who grew up not far from where Adut practices as a lawyer, to paint his portrait for this year’s Archibald Prize.

It took three sittings, one of nearly six hours, and four-and-a-half months – the longest time Stathopoulos has taken for an Archibald entry – for the artist to be satisfied he had captured the essence and likeness of his subject.

The portrait, titled Deng, is Stathopoulos’ first public choice winner and his fifth entry to be selected as an Archibald finalist. A “clear winner” among the pool, it comes with a $3,500 cash prize.

The Guardian calls it “vindication”:

The win is something of a vindication for Stathopoulos. In 2014, the artist was “astonished and disappointed” when his portrait of the author Robert Hoge, titled Ugly, did not make the finals of the Archibald or the Doug Moran prizes; it went on to win the people’s choice at Salon des Refuses, which features work that did not make the Archibald’s finalists exhibition.

…The Art Gallery of New South Wales director, Michael Brand, said: “This vote of appreciation by visitors to the Archibald recognises both the meticulous skill of artist Nick Stathopoulos and the wonderful contribution Deng Adut has made – and is making – to Australian life.”

The Archibald exhibition is at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until 9 October.

(2) THE TRIMBLES: The title of GQ’s article – “This Is How Star Trek Invented Fandom” – is bound to rub some who remember earlier fanhistory the wrong way, but the article itself has accurate information about the start of Star Trek fandom. Especially the part that comes from two impeccable sources:

“We’re pretty sure that the Trek community you see today would not have existed but for us,” Bjo Trimble says. “Not bragging.” Special guests at Star Trek Las Vegas (and a host of other 50th anniversary events), Bjo (pronounced “Bee-joe”) and her husband John are Star Trek’s ur-fans, the determined couple who saved the franchise.

They’re both in their eighties now: John wears red cap with a blue Vulcan salute on the front, Bjo has a streak of brilliant pink hair floating in her cloud of white. She’s the more loquacious of the two, but, she insists, “the whole Save Star Trek campaign was John’s fault.” They had heard the show was being cancelled in 1968, after its second season, during a visit to the studio lot. At John’s suggestion, the two launched a letter-writing campaign—all mimeographs and postal mail. It was the first ever to save a TV show, and the first time any fan community had flexed its collective muscle.

“NBC came on, in primetime, and made a voice-over announcement that Star Trek was not canceled, so please stop writing letters,” Bjo adds with pride.

TOS’s third and final season premiered with “Spock’s Brain,” commonly held to be one of the worst episodes of all time. (“We’re responsible for there being a third season,” John admits, “we’re not responsible for the third season.”) But by the run’s end, with a grand total of 79 episodes—barely making the minimum threshold—Star Trek could enter syndication. It had earned a second life.

(3) KINSELLA OBIT. Canadian author W. P. Kinsella (1935-2016) died September 16. Much of his fiction was devoted to depicting First Nations people of Canada, or baseball – and he is particularly well known as the author of Shoeless Joe, which was made into one of my favorite movies, Field of Dreams.

Kinsella’s first published book, Dance Me Outside (1977), was a collection of short stories narrated by a young Cree, Silas Ermineskin, who describes life on a First Nations reserve in Kinsella’s native Alberta. A later collection of similar stories, The Fencepost Chronicles, earned Kinsella the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. Kinsella was criticized for engaging in “cultural appropriation” by writing from the point of view of Native people, while he rejected the criticism on the grounds that a writer has the license to create anything he chooses.

These stories use the ineptness of the white bureaucrats on reservations as background, and Kinsella defended them, saying, “It’s the oppressed and the oppressor that I write about. The way that oppressed people survive is by making fun of the people who oppress them. That is essentially what my Indian stories are all about.”

Kinsella wrote nearly 40 short stories and three novels involving baseball. Shoeless Joe (1982) was his first novel, and the second, Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1986), was written as an epic spiritual conflict in the form of a game between a minor league team and the 1908 World’s Champion Chicago Cubs which threatened to go on to the ending of the world.

(4) BESIDES THE FICTION. Abigail Nussbaum says don’t overlook another reason to respond to Strange Horizons’ fund drive:

But beyond my relationship with it as a writer, what makes Strange Horizons special and important to me is the material it’s put before me as a reader.  A lot of the testimonials you’re going to see around the internet in the next few weeks are going to talk about Strange Horizons‘s fiction department, which has and continues to give platforms to new writers, many of whom have gone on to great things.  That’s worth recognizing and celebrating, but to me Strange Horizons will always be special as one of the finest, most interesting, most fearless sources for criticism and reviews.  There is, quite simply, no other online source of genre reviews that covers the breadth of material that Strange Horizons does, with the depth of engagement and the multiplicity of perspectives that it offers.  The editorial team that took over from me in 2015, under the leadership of Maureen Kincaid Speller, has excelled at finding new voices, such as Samira Nadkarni, Vajra Chandrasekera, and Keguro Macharia, to offer their vital points of view, while maintaining the presence of reviewers like Nina Allan and Erin Horáková, whose writing is essential to anyone interested in the state of our field.

(5) ASPIRING TO GREATNESS. Kameron Hurley identifies another of her writing problems in “The Madhatter Teaparty: Rescuing Your Characters from Endless Cups of Tea”. I have wondered if she didn’t struggle, would she still have such a rich source of examples to use in teaching about the writing profession? (She probably would!)

Plot kicks my ass. It kicks my ass up one end of a story and down another, because honestly, all my characters want to do is snark at each other over tea. Or whisky. Or coffee. Or bug juice. Whatever. Any excuse for them to sit around flinging zingers at each other and discussing what they are going to do next works for me.

This over reliance on tea-and-conversation scenes is a hallmark of discovery or gardener writers like me. When we get stuck on what happens next, we just sit the characters down for a chat and let them figure it out. Needless to say, this is a time consuming bit of lazy writing, because while it may get us where we’re going eventually, we can spend literally thousands upon thousands of words over the course of a novel having the characters explain the plot to each other, and then we have to go back and remove all those scenes or make them more interesting in their final form (I spent a lot of time in Empire Ascendant in particular going back and making talking scenes more interesting. For real: in the first draft, the first 150 pages of that book was just people talking)….

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 21, 1897 — The New York Sun’s Frank Church replied, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
  • September 21, 1937 — J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit.

(7) COMICS MAKING. NPR tells about “A Comics Convention For The Unconventional: The Small Press Expo”.

In theory, SPX seems a lot like many of the other comic-cons that have been popping up across the country over the last few years. There’s the vast exhibit floor, there’s a packed schedule of panels and spotlights featuring interviews of, and discussions between, various comics creators. People mill about, lugging bags loaded down with stuff they’ve bought, or find an empty patch of carpeted hallway on which to plop themselves and rest while perusing their purchases.

If you close your eyes, its sounds a lot like any other con: the low, steady murmur of voices punctuated by the occasional exclamation of delight or surprise from someone who’s stumbling across an old friend — or a new passion.

But the moment you open your eyes, you’re reminded that SPX isn’t like most other cons.

It’s smaller, for one thing — the big shows in San Diego and New York attract upwards of 130,000 people, and SPX’s attendance is closer to 3,000. It fills the huge ballroom at a hotel in North Bethesda, Maryland, but unlike other comic-cons, where companies build massive booths that tower over you with video screens, loudly hawking all manner of comics-adjacent stuff like toys, games, statues and t-shirts, everything at SPX is at eye-level.

(8) CAN THOSE EDITORS. A piece on wired.com by Susanne Althoff called “Algorithims Could Save Book Publlshing – But Ruin Novels”  looks at ways publishers are using data to determine which books they buy, including a summary of The Bestseller Code.

The result of their work—detailed in The Bestseller Code, out this month—is an algorithm built to predict, with 80 percent accuracy, which novels will become mega-bestsellers. What does it like? Young, strong heroines who are also misfits (the type found in The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). No sex, just “human closeness.” Frequent use of the verb “need.” Lots of contractions. Not a lot of exclamation marks. Dogs, yes; cats, meh. In all, the “bestseller-ometer” has identified 2,799 features strongly associated with bestsellers.

Later, Althoff discusses a company called Inkitt which invites everyone to submit their novels for everyone to read, and offers to act as agent for the books that are the best-performing. Inkitt sold YA novel Bright Star by Erin Swan to Tor, which will publish it next year.

The ability to know who reads what and how fast is also driving Berlin-based startup Inkitt. Founded by Ali Albazaz, who started coding at age 10, the English-language website invites writers to post their novels for all to see. Inkitt’s algorithms examine reading patterns and engagement levels. For the best performers, Inkitt offers to act as literary agent, pitching the works to traditional publishers and keeping the standard 15 percent commission if a deal results. The site went public in January 2015 and now has 80,000 stories and more than half a million readers around the world.

(9) KAREN GILLAN IN JUMANJI REBOOT. The Hollywood Reporter has “9 Theories as to Why ‘Jumanji’ Has Actress Karen Gillan So Scantily Clad”.

The first image of the upcoming Jumanji cast was released Tuesday, and one notable cast member looked like she got lost on the way to a Lara Croft Halloween party and ended up in the jungle instead.

Karen Gillan plays Ruby Roundhouse alongside Dwayne Johnson as Smolder Bravestone, Kevin Hart as Moose Finbar, and Jack Black as Shelly Oberon. Johnson promises there’s a plot-driven reason for Ruby’s seemingly sexist and totally nonsensical costume in the reboot.

“Her jungle wardrobe will make sense when you know the plot,” Johnson said. “Trust me.”

(Some fans are guessing that Gillan’s character is a trope. The original Jumanji from 1995 featured purposefully stereotypical characters who were part of the game — so perhaps that’s the plot device Johnson is referencing.)

(10) VOTE FOR FEMINIST AND QUEER COMICS AWARD. Autostraddle is holding is third annual comic award contest, for both excellence in the art form, and excellence in representation: “It’s Time to Vote in the 3rd Annual Autostraddle Comic And Sequential  Art Awards”.

This month is the three year anniversary of this column, which seeks to highlight and celebrate comics by, for and about queer women. So, that means that it’s once again time for the Autostraddle Comic and Sequential Art Awards, the only comic award that focuses on feminist themes and queer women’s representation in comics. Starting last year, these awards are voted on by you, the fans and readers of these comics and these books, and we’re doing that again this year, but now there are even more categories for you to vote in! This way, even more comics and creators get the recognition they so rightfully deserve.

(11) LANSBURY HELPS CELEBRATE BEAUTY & THE BEAST’S 25th. She can still carry a tune at the age of 90 – click through to watch as “Angela Lansbury sings ‘Beauty and the Beast’ theme in honor of anniversary”.

Twenty five years later, Angela Lansbury is ever just the same enchanting actress for Beauty and the Beast fans.

The actress, 90, reprised her role as Mrs. Potts during a special screening for the 25th anniversary of the animated classic. Lansbury, accompanied by composer Alan Menken, sang the title song, “Beauty and the Beast,” during the celebration in New York on Sunday. At the end, she even spoke her line to her character’s son: “Run along and get in the cupboard, Chip!” much to the delight of the crowd.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Rose Embolism, Martin Morse Wooster, and Chip Hitchcock for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce Baugh.]

Pixel Scroll 12/11 Fresh Squeezed Pixel Juice

(1) COME OUT OF YOUR SHELL. The University of Maryland Libraries is hosting “Exam Wars: The Turtle Awakens” (U of M’s mascot is the terrapin.)

They’re having a Star Wars drawing contest, among other things.

Exam Wars Illustration Contest Students will send us a drawing of a Star Wars character, and will be entered into a drawing for their very own VIP Study Room, (modeled after the University of Dayton <http://www.programminglibrarian.org/blog/very-important-prize>  study room give-away). This room in McKeldin will be available to the winner during reading day and finals week.

(2) REFERENCE DIRECTOR! “Calista Flockhart Thought the Millennium Falcon Was an Airline”, or so she told Jimmy Kimmel.

In recent months, Harrison Ford has grudgingly acknowledged that he has a soft spot for Star Wars — but apparently, not enough to show the films to his wife Calista Flockhart. During a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live last night, Supergirl actress Flockhart admitted that she was completely in the dark about all things Han Solo until this year. In fact, when a producer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens called to inform her of Ford’s accident on the Millennium Falcon, she had no idea what the Millennium Falcon was.

“A producer called me and she said, ‘Hi Calista, I have some bad news. Harrison has been hurt. He had an accident: he was standing on a Millennium Falcon and the door fell,’” Flockhart told Kimmel. “And I thought that he was on some commercial airline, and the door fell off and he flew out of the airplane!”

Totally confounded, Flockhart called a friend. “I said, ‘What the hell is the Millennium Falcon? I have never heard of that airline!’” she recalled. (Never heard of that airline? It’s the airline that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs!)

(3) DAMMIT JIM! ”Dammit Jim!” beer got its name when New Republic Brewing Company had to rename of one its products.

Dammit jim sixpack

The New Republic Brewing Co received a cease and desist letter from a law firm representing Luxco. They demand that we stop using the brand name Bellows as it is in violation of their trademark.  They claim that you, the consumer will confuse their plastic bottle bourbon with our quality craft beer.

Jim Beam apparently has a ‘Bellows’ line of rail-liquor and put pressure on New Republic. Thus, I suppose the message behind the new name is, “Dammit Jim, I’m a beer not a bourbon!”

Chad B. Hill commented, “The closest Captain Kirk will ever get to a 6 pack!”

(4) BANDERSNATCH EXPLAINED. “Diana Pavlac Glyer Talks About New Book, Bandersnatch” at the Azusa Pacific University website.

What common misconception about creative writing does Bandersnatch hope to eliminate?

This is a good opportunity to explain how Bandersnatch got its title. In a written exchange with Lewis an interviewer asked, “What influence have you had on Tolkien?” He responded, “No one ver influenced Tolkien—you might as well try to influence a bandersnatch.” (A bandersnatch is a mythical animal with a fierce disposition created by author Lewis Carroll.) Many researchers argued that Tolkien and Lewis must, therefore, have worked independently. In the very same letter, however, Lewis goes on to explain that Tolkien either ignores suggestions all together, or completely redoes his work.

The idea of the solitary genius is extremely popular, especially in the United States. Many people imagine the creative process this way: Someone struck with inspiration, sits alone with a typewriter and completes an entire book in one sitting. This could not be more off base. The world’s most influential creators are those embedded in a web of collaboration. They communicate deeply with other people about their ideas, and immerse themselves in groups of influence. When we work among others, our own productivity flourishes. We need people not only to work with us, but to do small things like encourage us along the way.

(5) SECRET AGENT NARNIAN. Harry Lee Poe’s title is overdramatized, however, he seems to be literally correct in saying “C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent”, according to the information in his article for Christianity Today.

…[The] British did the next best thing they could do to help Denmark and the rest of Europe: They launched a surprise invasion of Iceland, which was part of the Kingdom of Denmark….

Though British control of Iceland was critical, Britain could not afford to deploy its troops to hold the island when greater battles loomed elsewhere, beginning with the struggle for North Africa. Holding Iceland depended upon the goodwill of the people of Iceland who never had asked to be invaded by the British. If Britain retained Icelandic goodwill, then Churchill could occupy the island with reserve troops rather than his best fighting forces.

This was the strategic situation in which C. S. Lewis was recruited. And his mission was simple: To help win the hearts of the Icelandic people.

The Work of a Literary Secret Agent

The Joint Broadcasting Committee recruited C. S. Lewis to record a message to the people of Iceland to be broadcast by radio within Iceland. Lewis made no record of his assignment, nor does he appear to have mentioned it to anyone. Without disclosing his involvement with military intelligence, however, Lewis did make an indiscreet disclosure to his friend Arthur Greeves in a letter dated May 25, 1941. Lewis remarked that three weeks earlier he had made a gramophone record which he heard played afterwards. He wrote that it had been a shock to hear his own voice for the first time. It did not sound at all the way his voice sounded to himself, and he realized that people who imitated him had actually gotten it right!

(6) MST3K CASHES IN. The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Kickstarter raised $5,764,229 with 48,270 backers , and another $600,000 in add-ons, for a total of $6,364,229. MST3K claims $5,764,229 is a Kickstarter record, beating Veronica Mars to become the most funded media project ever.

We get 13 episodes, a holiday special, and a 14th episode. More importantly we have shown the industry that fans have real power, and in fact don’t need networks and studios to rule our viewing choices. Good work.

(7) SHAGGY. R. Graeme Cameron takes a deep dive into the November 1958 issue of LASFS’ fanzine Shangri-L’Affaires #39 in “The Clubhouse; Fanzine Reviews: ‘breaking people off at the ankles’”.

He begins by reciting the entire credits page (“If the following doesn’t convince you the clubzine SHAGGY was a group effort by a staggering array of now legendary fans in the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, there’s no hope for you”), quotes a Halloween party review at length (Fritz Leiber attended in costume), and documents Bjo’s abilities to mesmerize male fans of the 1950s.

(8) COMPANIONSHIP. All I can say about TVGuide.com’s “The Most Fabulous Doctor Who Companions, Ranked” is any such list that doesn’t have Donna Noble at #1 will not be receiving my daughter’s seal of approval.

(9) SECRETS OF CERES. NASA reports “New Clues to Ceres’ Bright Spots and Origins”.

Ceres reveals some of its well-kept secrets in two new studies in the journal Nature, thanks to data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. They include highly anticipated insights about mysterious bright features found all over the dwarf planet’s surface.

In one study, scientists identify this bright material as a kind of salt. The second study suggests the detection of ammonia-rich clays, raising questions about how Ceres formed.

(10) LAST SASQUAN GOH RETURNS HOME. Sasquan GoH and NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren had a longer flight than most. He returned to Earth earlier today (December 11).

Expedition 45 flight engineers Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency) and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) touched down at approximately 8:12 a.m. EST (7:12 p.m. Kazakhstan time) northeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. It was the first time a crew has landed after sunset and only the sixth nighttime Soyuz return from the space station.

 

Kjell Lindgren

Kjell Lindgren

(11) BE YOUR OWN ALIEN. See the cartoon at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal“Why has no one made this?!”

(12) Today In History

  • December 11, 1992:  The Muppet Christmas Carol premieres in theaters.

(13) Today’s Birthday Ghoul

  • Born December 11, 1922 – Vampira, aka Maila Nurmi.

(14) PUPPY SCHOLARSHIP. Doris V. Sutherland in “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Short Stories” quotes Gregory Benford’s complaint about fantasy taking over the Hugo Awards, and after a long introduction to the Sad Puppy controversy (excerpted here) assays the sf worth of the 2014 Hugo finalists compared to the stories on the slates.

The grave talk of a fight against a “toxic” and “hateful” ideology that controls the Hugos is a long way from the puckish humour of Correia’s early posts. At this point, what started out as a jokey bit of grandstanding has begun to resemble an online holy war against “SJW” hordes.

This element of moral imperative is the key distinction between the Sad Puppies campaign and earlier exercises in slate-voting, such as John Scalzi’s “Award Pimpage”. When a slate of potential nominees is taken as a simple suggestion, that is one thing; when it is taken as a call to arms against evil forces, that is quite another.

And the Winner Is… Well, Nobody

I am, of course, awfully late to the party, and by now I think just about anyone reading this will know the result of the two campaigns. The Sad and Rabid Puppies gathered enough support to sweep the nominees with a mixture of choices from the two slates. And yet, they also had enough detractors to keep almost all of those choices from winning – even if it meant voting “no award” to the tops of multiple categories.

Both sides took this as a victory. Many opponents of the Puppies congratulated themselves on keeping the slated works from winning, while supporters took the results as evidence that the Hugos were run by “SJWs” who barred any nominees with the wrong ideology.

Myself, I would have to agree with Liana Kerzner: “No one won. It was just a disruption in the Force like Palpatine ripped a big fart.”

(15) CONTENT WARNING. The Castalia House blog has posted the first two of a five-part series “Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End.” The series argues the sf community has a pedophilia problem. Whether you read it, you now know it exists – Part IPart II.

[Thanks to David Doering, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Chris S.]

Hertz: Bjo Eggs Us On

Bill Rotsler and Paul Turner at Westercon XIX in 1966. Photo by Len Moffatt.

Bill Rotsler and Paul Turner at Westercon XIX in 1966. Photo by Len Moffatt.

By John Hertz: Bjo Trimble has been inspiring us all for a while.

The way to write her name, incidentally, sometimes doesn’t get through the dark glass of software. A circumflex “^” goes over the “j”, being an Esperantism to show one says “Bee-joe”.

She knows so much and can do so much, and has, that she’s hard to describe briefly. You can look up her early days, and her husband John Trimble’s, in Harry Warner’s book A Wealth of Fable.

She won’t take credit for inventing s-f con Art Shows, but she earned it. She did a lot for Star Trek, the Society for Creative Anachronism, her and my local club the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, Flesh Gordon (yes, I meant to spell it that way), and fanzines, being herself a leading fanartist, and a fine fanwriter as you’ll see in a moment.

The earliest recipient of the Big Heart Award alive, she’s been dyeing for years. She was Fan Guest of Honor at the 6th NASFiC; she and John were conjoint Fan Guests of Honor at the 60th Worldcon. At the 17th Worldcon she moderated the most remarkable panel discussion in Worldcon history, which started Sunday night, still had sixty people at two in the morning, and ran till 4:30 a.m. We’ll have a NASFiC in the same town this summer.

You may have heard of the Harlan Ellison – Bill Rotsler Egg Adventure at Westercon XIX in 1966. I mentioned it myself in File 770 136. She set the record straight with a letter of comment in De Profundis 493.

In the interests of art as well as science, we thought we’d answer this one question: How do you draw a smiley-face on a fried egg? Since we were at that breakfast, mainly because it’s always entertaining to share a meal with Harlan, we can verify this.

First, you have to get said fried egg to a totally solid state. That’s why Harlan didn’t want to eat it. Rotsler always carried felt-nib pens for quick-draw. While Harlan was raising a fuss with a waiter who obviously didn’t give a damn who Harlan was, or why he was yelling about an egg, Rotsler pulled the plate with the offending egg to himself and quickly drew the face. Then Bill silently slid the egg back in front of Harlan.

When others at the table saw the egg, there was general hilarity, which of course enraged Harlan even more. The waiter looked down at the enhanced egg, did not smile, and walked away, causing another explosion from Harlan. Then he saw the egg, glared at Rotsler who looked back as if he had no idea about all this, and Harlan decided it was funny.

John and I were running that Westercon Art Show, so we should not have been surprised when Rotsler walked in with the egg still on its plate, and registered it as an entry in the Art Show. It was displayed, with a bid sheet. Then some upper-level hotel staff member saw it and demanded that it be removed. We showed him the art paperwork that made it a legit art object, and he stalked off.

Another, higher-level hotel person showed up to demand that the egg be removed “for health reasons”. John pointed out that the egg was so ossified that it had passed beyond food into fossil, and qualified for exhibition. The Art Show was ignored by the hotel after that, except by the hotel housekeeper in charge of that room, who wanted to know if she should dust the egg or not.

The egg sold to someone, but I believe we had to find a paper plate for it as the hotel threatened to charge the convention an outrageous sum for their “valuable” plate. They didn’t want to break up the set.

Niven, Pournelle at San Diego Comic Fest

Some of the people who put together the San Diego Comic Fest, being held this weekend, October 4-6, are Comic-Con co-founders or past committee members who wanted to create an event more limited in scale. Their con is not affiliated with Comic-Con International.

Their GoH, Larry Niven, also isn’t an obvious choice to launch a comics-themed weekend although he’s done work in the medium, including a Green Lantern story.

But they sure know how to show him off to good effect. Here’s one example –

The Draco Tavern Enjoy Comic Fest’s creation of The Draco Tavern, based on a series of short stories about Earth’s only multispecies bar that were written by our 2013 Guest of Honor, Larry Niven. Fresh from her great success in recreating the look of Café Frankenstein for the first Fest, Wendy All will be directing the design of The Draco Tavern, which will feature an array of reasonably-priced and delicious food, coffee, and other beverages.

And they’ve also convinced Jerry Pournelle to participate on the program. As he explained on Chaos Manor

Precisely why I am involved is a long story: I don’t usually go to comic related conventions, and I don’t recall doing anything for comics that ever got published.

Periodically I try to work on an episode for Chrissie Claus, a not very widely circulated comic I happen to like a lot, but even with the help of Marv Wolfman on fundamentals of writing for comics I find it’s not easy for me. I sort of wish I had started a few years ago when I could work really intensely for a couple of days on something. In any event nothing has ever come of this other than that I continue to like Chrissie when she infrequently appears in a new edition.

However, a long time ago in the earlier days of my science fiction career, my son Alex, then at UC San Diego, fell in with a group of science fiction fans who were involved in starting ComicCon, and I was invited as one of the guests in an early rendition of ComicCon before it became so large.I had a great time, but about the only other guest I met who had read anything of mine was Adam West. I didn’t know Marv Wolfman then. Anyway, as a Result I got a “Gold Card” which entitled me to attend any future ComicCon, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. Recently some of the fans involved in putting on the first ComicCon decided they wanted a comic convention limited in size. They got Larry Niven as GOH, and remembered that I’d been part of the early ComicCon, and somehow I ended up agreeing to come although I can’t remember doing it. I’m sure I’ll have a great time. I may even meet a fellow Chrissie Claus fan.

The con also features Comics Fan Guest of Honor Richard Kyle, once owner of a well-known bookstore, and Science Fiction Fan Guests of Honor John and Bjo Trimble. More guests and program participants listed here.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Trimbles Are Westercon 66 Special Guests

Bjo and John Trimble will be attending Westercon 66 as Special Costume guests. This is a great move —

They were there at the beginning of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and helped bring the arts to sf cons…

Bjo introduced art shows to science fiction conventions, and put on some of the earliest costume shows, which evolved into today’s masquerades. She and John were key players in Star Trek fandom, helping keep the original series on the air when it was first under threat of cancellation. They have been active in fandom ever since.

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

Ray Bradbury in 2009 showing a medal to the audience at a performance of one of his plays. Photo by Diana Glyer.

Ray Bradbury, cherished science fiction writer, attendee of the first Worldcon, and a member of LASFS since the Clifton’s Cafeteria days, died June 5 at the age of 91.

His daughter, Alexandra Bradbury, made the announcement. The Associated Press said she did not have additional details.

“He was a good man, and a major enabler of young writers,” noted Bjo Trimble.

The People Magazine website has already posted a fine appreciation of his career.

[Thanks to Bjo Trimble for the story.]

Bjo Comments on Final Flight of Enterprise

Leonard Nimoy welcomed the shuttle Enterprise to Kennedy Airport in New York last month, symbolizing Star Trek’s shared history with America’s first space shuttle.

He and the rest of the cast had attended the shuttle’s roll-out 35 years earlier — because a letter-writing campaign spearheaded by Bjo Trimble influenced President Gerald Ford to name the first shuttle after the starship on Star Trek (itself named by Roddenberry after the famous U.S. Navy carrier).

Bjo and John Trimble went to the 1976 roll-out, too, so I naturally wondered what they were thinking as everything came full-circle. Bjo answers —  

It does seem like a blink since we worked on it, though revisionist history now says we had nothing to do with it, and several others are claiming they did it all alone. Yeah….

It was with a sort of nostalgic sigh that John and I sat down to watch the Enterprise being delivered to New York. We could wish that it had been brought out here, but at least it didn’t end up in a space junk-pile, as so many of our past space vehicles have done.

Well, maybe not a junk-pile, but it’s heart-rending to see that big ol’ Saturn 5 laying on the Johnson Space Center’s lawn, just being a big bird’s nest!

At least the Enterprise will be set up for people to wonder at it, and enjoy it. That is important to us.