Ed Bryant (1945-2017)

Ed Bryant. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Science Fiction author Ed Bryant, who died in his sleep after a long illness, was found February 10 reports Locus Online.

Bryant discovered science fiction at the golden age of 12 when he purchased the August 1957 issue of Amazing Stories. A decade later, he made his way to the very first Clarion Workshop in 1968, where he sold a story to Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions that became his first professional publication.

John Clute’s entry about Bryant in the Science Fiction Encyclopedia captures one of the reasons for the author’s meteoric ascent in Seventies sf.

His conversational, apparently casual style sometimes conceals the tight construction and density of his best work, like “Shark” (in Orbit 12, anth 1973, ed Damon Knight), a complexly told love story whose darker implications are brought to focus in the girl’s decision to have her brain transplanted into a shark’s body, ostensibly as part of a research project; in the story, symbol and surface reality mesh impeccably. The setting for many of the stories in this collection is a California transmuted by sf devices and milieux into an image, sometimes scarifying, sometimes joyful, of the culmination of the American Dream…

Registering an exception to the overall regard for Bryant’s work was Thomas M. Disch, who named him as part of “The Labor Day Group” (1981), a set of young writers whose work stroked fannish sensibilities, and as a result often won Hugo and Nebula awards. This provoked a response from another Disch target, George R.R. Martin, “Literature, Bowling, and the Labor Day Group”, which gave Bryant a deceptively lighthearted defense.

The Colorado resident was a 7-time nominee for SFWA’s Nebula Award, winning twice – “Stone” (1979) and  “giANTS” (1980) – as well as a 3-time nominee for the Hugo, World Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards. The International Horror Guild Awards named Bryant a Living Legend in 1997.

Bryant has been a prolific short fiction writer whose career has been regularly punctuated by new collections of stories — Among the Dead and Other Events Leading up to the Apocalypse (1973), Cinnabar (1976), Wyoming Sun (1980), Particle Theory (1981), Neon Twilight (1990), Darker Passions (1991), The Baku: Tales of the Nuclear Age (2001), Trilobyte (2014), and Predators and Other Stories (2014).

He regularly contributed to George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series, appearing in five different volumes.

His other professional gigs included writing an annual media coverage essay in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthology, which he did for over 20 years. He also edited an anthology of original stories and some poems, 2076: The American Tricentennial (1977).

Bryant’s fame did not rest entirely on his writing. He was in great demand as a convention toastmaster, gaining the pinnacle of notoriety by conducting the Denvention Two (1981) Hugo Awards ceremony on roller skates.

[Thanks to  Andrew Porter for the story.]

Rusty Hevelin (1922-2011)

Rusty Hevelin at a Boskone in the 1970s. Photo by Andrew Porter.

James “Rusty” Hevelin, a winner of First Fandom’s Sam Moskowitz Archive Award (2003) and a past Worldcon Guest of Honor, died December 27 at the age of 89. He was hospitalized a few days ago with poor circulation in his legs. When a planned surgical intervention was cancelled because Rusty’s condition worsened to the point where his surgeon and doctors concluded that he’d be unlikely to survive the surgery, he spent his last days in hospice care.  
 
As a teenager living in Riverside, California, Rusty somehow discovered the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. He attended a meeting in 1941 (– and from that experience deemed Laney’s “Ah, Sweet Idiocy” not grossly exaggerated!) Later in the year he hitchhiked to Denver to attend the Worldcon. (See his conreport here.)

After the con, Rusty  moved to Philadelphia where he soon was elected President of the PSFS. He also began publishing a newzine, Nebula. Once World War II began he joined the Marine Corps and served in the Pacific as a meteorologist.

When Rusty came back from World War II he resumed his role as an active fan organizer. Still the last President of PSFS, he suggested a merger of Philadelphia’s two small sf clubs. He also served as a director of the National Fantasy Fan Federation during its tempestuous postwar era, the N3F having been founded in 1940 at the suggestion of Damon Knight.

At the same time, Rusty took over publication of StefNews from Jack Speer. Other zines he published over the years include Aliquot, H-1661, and Badly.

A curious measure of the ebb and flow of Rusty’s role in fanhistory is the way Harry Warner’s All Our Yesterdays repeatedly cites him as a mover and shaker in 1940s fandom, yet judging by A Wealth of Fable in the following decade the only historic thing he did was keep Bob Tucker from stalking out of the 1956 Worldcon after missing Al Capp’s speech. (Tucker was one of the victims of events which produced the catchphrase “Dave Kyle says you can’t sit here.”)

Tucker and Hevelin were great friends. Tucker enjoyed introducing Rusty as his “Dad”, winking at the fact he’d been born in 1914 and Hevelin in 1922. Tucker would also say, “Some people wonder out loud why dad’s surname is not the same as mine. It’s a simple answer. He didn’t marry my mother.”

Rusty did eventually marry and has four sons, John, Scott, Bruce and Will.  

After a long hiatus that ended in the mid-Sixties, Rusty became active in fandom again and began huckstering at conventions.

He was always popular. Rusty was elected the 1975 Down Under Fan Fund delegate and attended the first Australian Worldcon. For his trip report he created a slide show and presented it at conventions around the U.S.

Though Rusty kept his hand in as a huckster and conrunner as the years went by (assuring that Pulpcon kept going after its first year, 1972, with the aid of Lynn Hickman and Gordon Huber), his memory really rests on his reputation for friendliness and the good times people had in his company.

Rusty’s contributions to fandom were celebrated by Denvention 2 (1981) where he was Fan Guest of Honor.

[Thanks to Bill Higgins, Steven Silver, Keith Stokes and Andrew Porter for the story.]

Update 12/29/2011: Two corrections. (1) I’ve learned Rusty never joined First Fandom although, of course, his fanac began early enough to make him eligible. And it was pointed out he therefore might not have wanted to be identified as a member. (2) Also corrected the description of his role in the beginnings of Pulpcon — thanks to Walker Martin. In fact that explains the phrasing of the info in Lynn Hickman’s obituary which I used as a source, intended to convey that they kept Pulpcon from being a one-shot. 

Takumi Shibano (1927-2010)

Rick Sneary, Roy Tackett, Takumi and Sachiko Shibano at the 1968 Worldcon, BayCon.

Rick Sneary, Roy Tackett, Takumi and Sachiko Shibano at the 1968 Worldcon, BayCon.

Takumi Shibano died January 16 at 8:06 p.m. (JST). The reported cause of death was pneumonia.

His life spanned the founding of Japanese fandom to the announcement of the Nippon 2017 bid. He was a guest of honor at two Worldcons, L.A.con III and Nippon 2007.

Japanese author Tetsu Yano, who Gene Van Troyer called Japan’s Robert Heinlein, said he could hardly imagine what would have become of SF in Japan if Takumi Shibano had not existed: “Thanks to his fanzine Uchuujin, we had a network that allowed us to meet, and I feel blessed that Shibano-san was here to create it. All of Japanese science fiction and fandom was born as a result.”

Takumi, born in 1927, was the son of a Japanese Army officer. Following his father’s postings, Takumi attended schools in Taiwan, Tokyo and Manchuria. Upon finishing high school in 1945 he was drafted into the Physico-Chemical Research Association. There he learned the essentials of modern physics. After the end of WWII, Takumi attended the Tokyo Institute of Technology, graduating in 1950.

That same year he sold his first story, which appeared under the name “Kozumi Rei” (a wordplay on “cosmic ray”). He would later use that pen name as a novelist and translator of science fiction stories.

Takumi taught math for 26 years at Tokyo Municipal Koyamadai high school, from 1951 until 1977 when chronic asthma led him to quit teaching and become a full-time writer and translator. Among the works he translated into Japanese are Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel” and Larry Niven’s Ringworld and “Inconstant Moon.”

A colleague, veteran translator Hisashi Asakura, paid this compliment to his work in 1996: “Takumi Shibano has such a fundamental grasp of science that he understands the nature of the ideas that the writers have. If he has the slightest question about anything, he pursues the answer with total dedication, writing letters of talking directly with the authors. He’s peerless — a real role model for translators and authors.”

Takumi and Sachiko Takahashi married in 1954. They had two daughters, Miho and Minae.

Takumi’s fascination with SF first drew him to join the UFOs Flying in Japan’s Skies Research Group in 1956. As he explained in a quote run in the Nippon 2007 Souvenir Book, “It wasn’t that I was so enamored of UFO research, but that I was interested in those basic, fantastical science ideas, so I wanted to do SF.” The group was as close as he could get, but that would soon change.

At one of the meetings he threw out the idea of doing an extra issue of the group’s publication solely devoted to SF. Several members responded so enthusiastically they launched the first issue of Uchuujin (“space dust”) in May 1957. Uchuujin’s first issues were handwritten on mimeograph stencils, but it transformed into a typset publication by 1960. In later years, the zine’s best stories would be collected in five professionally published volumes.

Production of the magazine soon led to in-person discussion and the formation of Kagaku Sosaku (variously translated as Science Fiction Club or Science Creation Club), led by Tetsu Yano.

Takumi chaired four of the first six Japanese national science fiction conventions. He also helped establish the Federation of SF Fangroups of Japan in 1965 and served as chairman from 1966 until 1970.

He wrote several original juvenile science fiction novels, all published in Japan under his pen name Rei Kozumi: Superhuman ‘Plus X’ (1969), Operation Moonjet (1969), and Revolt in North Pole City (1977). He was also the principal author of The World of Popular Literature (1978), a nonfiction work.

Takumi was effectively introduced to American fans through the pages of Roy Tackett’s fanzine Dynatron. People became eager to meet him in person. LA’s bid committee for the 1968 Worldcon simultaneously ran a fan fund to bring Takumi Shibano to the Worldcon. Only the fan fund succeeded, consequently Shibano-san attended BayCon, the Worldcon in Berkeley, California.

He and Sachiko attended many more Worldcons through the years. At Denvention 2 in 1981 they appeared on stage during the Hugo Awards for the first time to present Seiun Awards to the Western sf writers whose translated works had won. (The winners are chosen by the Japanese national convention.)  It became a Hugo night tradition for the Shibanos or other Japanese pros to appear in ceremonial robes and recognize the winners.

Takumi won World SF’s President’s Award in 1984 and its Karel Award in 1991. He received a Special Committee Award from ConFrancisco, the 1993 Worldcon. And he was the winner of the E. E. Evans Big Heart Award in 1987.

Takumi, through his love of science fiction, achieved a rare bridging of cultures. He was a gracious man who warmly responded to anyone’s welcome and questions. Like Ackerman, to whom he is invariably compared, he was one of fandom’s early organizers who became an international ambassador of science fiction.

[Thanks to Atsushi Morioka, John Hertz, Glenn Glazer, Craig Miller and Peggy Rae Sapienza for the story.]

Update 01/18/2010: Adopted correction by John Hertz — the proper order of Takumi’s pen name is “Kozumi Rei.” Then, based on Petrea Mitchell’s suggestion (and a consultation with John) altered the spelling of the fanzine title to ‘Uchuujin,’ as the most accurate translation within the power of my limited coding skills….