Hertz: That Golden Boskone

By John Hertz: While we wait to hear about Boskone LI (14-16 Feb, Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel), I thought I’d give you one more souvenir of Boskone L.

The earliest Boskone conventions were hosted 1941-1945 by the Stranger Club; Boskone I of a new series in 1965 by BoSFS the Boston S-F Society; NESFA (New England S-F Ass’n) took the helm with Boskone V. “Boskone” for Boston + con refers to E.E. Smith’s Lensman series.

Boskone has one Guest of Honor. Along with that come an Official Artist; a Featured Filker (Boston’s history with filk music being mighty), later called Featured Musician; a Special Guest, fan or pro (some people being both); a Hal Clement Science Speaker; and a NESFA Press Guest (Nesfa Press being the publishing pseudopod of NESFA).

At Boskone L last year the GoH was Vernor Vinge; OA, Lisa Snellings; FM, Heather Dale; SG, me; SS, Jordin Kare; NPG, Jerry Pournelle. You can see my report here.

The inimitable Fo’ Paws made a spiffy tote bag. I’m not very electronic, but if I’m clever lucky or skillful I’ll have gotten you a nice picture, and you can see the NESFA emblem on the space ship.

Boskone 50 icon by Lisa Snellings.

Boskone 50 icon by Lisa Snellings.

Hertz: Why You Might Like Boskone

By John Hertz:  It’s a new year. Last month I turned in my 2013 Worldcon report in time for File 770 163 [PDF file] — a prime issue. This month Bill Wright and I closed Down Under Fan Fund nominations, and opened voting. Boskone LI is approaching at the terrifying rate of sixty seconds a minute. So I thought I’d better tell you how golden Boskone L was.

“Boskone” for Boston + con refers to E.E. Smith’s Lensman series. His Boskone and Lens first appear in Galactic Patrol (1937); prequels and sequels followed.

The earliest Boskone conventions were hosted 1941-1945 by the Stranger Club; Boskone I of a new series in 1965 by BoSFS the Boston S-F Society; current host NESFA, the New England S-F Ass’n, took the helm with Boskone V (N.S., we might say — or anyway I might). Boskone L was 15-17 Feb 13 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel; Boskone LI will be likewise 14-16 Feb 14.

I was Special Guest at Boskone L. Boskone doesn’t have Fan Guests of Honor; the SG may be a fan or pro (or both): before me had been Guy Consolmagno, Irene Gallo, Bob Madle, Shawna McCarthy, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Toni Weisskopf, Tom Whitmore.

In fact there is one Guest of Honor. Therewith, an Official Artist; a Featured Filker (Boston’s history with filk music being mighty), later called Featured Musician; an SG; a Hal Clement Science Speaker; and a NESFA Press Guest (NESFA Press being the publishing pseudopod of NESFA). Some folks are or become variously eminent: Jordin Kare, FF in 2000, was SS in 2013.

At Boskone L the GoH was Vernor Vinge; OA, Lisa Snellings; FM, Heather Dale; SG, me; SS, Kare; NPG, Jerry Pournelle. Chair, Rick Kovalcik. Attendance about 1,000.

Suford Lewis, then NESFA President, thought to publish a fourth collection of my fanwriting, and reprint the three previous. This was done, the fourth being Neither Complete nor Conclusive, released at the con. I couldn’t or anyway didn’t resist a Lensman reference. Nor does the con newszine, naturally Helmuth speaking for Boskone.

It’s only fair to note that in the event Neither took extra hours by Suford, sleeping on a NESFA Clubhouse couch by me, learning what was with the %*?! software and printer by Paula Lieberman, and a host of others, all in a hard day’s or night’s work.

I led three Classics of S-F talks, The Man in the High Castle (1962), Moonraker (1955), and Patrol. Another project was a reprise of the Chicon VII Diane & Leo Dillon exhibit. Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink had kindly modified her top label. Sure enough Chip Hitchcock arrived with NESFA Library books the Dillons had illustrated. He’d co-chaired World Fantasy Con XXV where they were Guests of Honor.

Colored tape on the hotel’s lower-level floor ran to the Art Show, the Dealers’ Room, Hospitality. Ron Salomon talked with Pournelle about wise and unwise couplings, e.g. telephones and cameras. Guest Liaison Persis Thorndike’s daughter Talis Thorndike Love headed a children’s space, Dragon’s Lair; she’d been the child warrior helped by a dragon in “Seeking Hope” at the Millennium Philcon Masquerade, to which I and the other judges awarded Best Transformation.

Alas, I couldn’t attend “Who Painted That?”, reprising a panel or maybe game I’d built for L.A.con IV from watching Bob Eggleton browse at Massoglia Books; Renovation reprised it with Mark Olson moderating; now John Picacio moderated Eggleton, Olson, and Joe Siclari. In the Art Show, Siclari with Edie Stern curated a superb 50-year Boskone retrospective. I had my hands full with Galactic Patrol.

In that discussion Fred Lerner brought up Ezra Pound’s “news that stays news”. Lori Meltzer said the aliens weren’t what we were used to. Ben Yalow said their incomprehensibility was made a tool to show character development. I said we weren’t used to seeing that from outside. C.D. Carson said, as in Homer.

At the Awards Ceremony the Skylark, whose trophy is a lens, was given to Ginjer Buchanan. Stern had in 2012 been made a Fellow of NESFA. I said fandom’s difference was participation. Dale sang.

Moonraker was intense. Meltzer asked if its rocket could as well have been a sailboat. I expounded 1955 British rocket science, seconded by Peter Weston. We dug into the role of science in s-f, the characterization of Bond and Brand and Drax, the skill of Fleming.

I lunched with Woody Bernardi and Geri Sullivan, took Picacio’s Art Show tour and gave mine, led Regency Dancing, heard filking, and taught Zev Sero something he didn’t know about the Book of Jonah. As Judah P. Benjamin said in Britain, that’s my case, my lords.

Classics of SF at Boskone

Going to Boskone/? John Hertz as Special Guest will lead discussions of three SF Classics; here are his notes so you can read up.

We’ll take up three classics at Boskone 50, one discussion each.

Each of our three is famous, each in a different way.  Each may be even more interesting now than when it was first published.

Our working definition is, “A classic is a work that survives its own time.  After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.”  If you have a better definition, bring it.

Come to as many as you like.  You’ll be welcome to join in.

Philip K. Dick

The Man in the High Castle (1962)

This won Dick’s only Hugo.  The Allies lost World War II; Nazi Germany con­trols the east of North America, Imperial Japan the west, where the story is mostly set.  Avram Davidson said “It’s all here, extrapolation, suspense, action, art philosophy,” and if the likes of us dare add to him, endless resonances, for example falsehood.

Ian Fleming

Moonraker (1955)

Nothing like the Moonraker came for two more years; even then the R-7 and Atlas couldn’t burn hydrogen – fluorine.  Science fiction all right.  Can James Bond take it?  What can we learn?  Could this be among the rare craftsmanly s-f from authors outside our field?  What about the denouement of Gala Brand?

E.E. Smith

Galactic Patrol (1937)

Here we first meet Boskone and the Lens; prequels and sequels followed.  Samuel Johnson said the essence of poetry was invention; Patrol has that; its vitality, and its focus through all the coruscations, are remarkable.  Characterization?  If you think Worsel is painted too explicitly, look at Kinnison’s leaving footprints all over Blakeslee

Pam Fremon, F.N. Passes Away

Pam Fremon died November 7 of a heart attack reports Deb Geisler. Fremon, a long-time NESFA member, lived in Waltham, MA. She chaired the 2002 and 2006 Boskones, served several terms as Clerk of the NESFA, and was selected a Fellow of NESFA in 1990.

“She brought together MCFI and Bill Neville who did all our Lens-Family art, and was a major force in the group that did the starry vests that you showed in a recent item,” Chip Hitchcock recalls, adding this praise: “She was invariably calm when people around her got more and more tightly wound.”

“At Noreascon Four, [Pam] was the goddess of signs, pumping out many, many signs for the convention while not-quite chained to the large-format printer we had bought for the task,” said Deb, pointing to the photo below.

I remember the deftly humorous meeting reports she wrote when Clerk of the NESFA – some bits so funny I had to share them in File 770. Here are two examples: each begins with my couple of lines of introduction, followed by Pam’s quotes.

From 2000:

Hardly anyone is embarrassed to be seen entering a NESFA meeting anymore, but there seems a good reason not to attract attention on the way out. Clerk Pam Fremon says at the end of the January 23 meeting:

     “We stole away into the night, mindful of the wolves.

     “Through the years, many creatures have, of course, chased NESFAns on the way to Other Meetings — such a common occurrence that it has never seen mention in Instant Message….until now.

     “Wolves are fairly typical predators for winter meetings, but going a little further north (say, Andover, MA), polar bears are not uncommon, though they don’t usually appear until January (in December they’re too busy with Coca-Cola commercials.) In most of the rest of the year the chasers vary: moose, snakes, coyotes, pigeons. In one notably hot day when even cars were so hot that they could manage just 15 mph, members were chased by turtles.”

From 2003:

Instant Message 711 (and what issue could have a luckier number than that?) Clerk Pam Fremon reported the menu of NESFA’s November 24 Other Meeting:

     “Deb [Geisler] and Mike [Benveniste] fed us to the gills with an enormous tray of lasagna (containing 5 lbs. of meat and 2 lbs. of mushrooms). It was a free-range lasagna that had been humanely slaughtered and carried no trace of fur, feathers, nor scales. Deb acknowledged that this year she hadn’t also made an emergency back-up lasagna, figuring that this one would be enough. As she said, people had brought enough sweets for 27 courses of desserts. At the end of the meal there was only one helping of lasagna, and Dave Grubbs (after some coaxing) valiantly threw himself onto it.”

Pam Fremon with the large-format printer at Noreascon 4.

Cons Piracy Hits the Web

Heavy aftershocks were felt for months after the New Madrid earthquake of 1812, and according to a popular joke if you asked a man in Natchez how his farm was he’d run home to see if it was still there. You’ll soon be hearing a new version of that story featuring conrunners who’ve been asked how their websites are doing. But the former owners of Eastercon.org and Boskone.com can save themselves the trip: cyber squatters now own their farms.

Cons are often marketed online using internet domain names identical to the convention’s name. Domain names have finite lives and must be renewed.

The Eastercon.org address, which originally hosted a site about the con’s history, with reliable pointers to current Eastercon publicity, was edited (according to a post at Anonymousclaire) by Alex McLintock and Chris O’Shea.

The New England Science Fiction Association unhappily found its “Boskone.com” address evidently had expired and been re-registered by a cyber squatter. The club is taking action on the squatter, according to Instant Message #796.

That is not the only Boskone domain. Boskone.org still forwards readers to NESFA’s official web page promoting the convention. (Athough this state of affairs is destined to end in November, according to www.who.is). On the other hand, Boskone.net already talks about nothing but last August’s Lynch/Cheshire wedding in Seattle, and for the explanation of that your guess is as good as mine.